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3 ways to boost immunity to train through winter

It is important to boost immunity during winter because the cold and flu season and intense exercise often don’t go well together.

Hard training can suppress certain elements of the immune system at a time when seasonal bugs in the gym, at work or at home makes you more susceptible to infection.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), “immune depression in athletes worsens with excessive training load, psychological stress, disturbed sleep, and environmental extremes, all of which can contribute to an increased risk of respiratory tract infections.”

Give your immune system a fighting chance this winter with our top 3 immune-boosting tips…

1. Eat for immunity

Proper nutrition is your best weapon for fighting infections during the flu season by providing all the nutrients your immune system needs to kill bugs and ward off infection.

Your body derives the essential nutrients it needs to produce and maintain the immune system and produce disease-fighting immune cells from the food we eat.

As such, it is vitally important to eat a balanced, healthful diet that contains a range of nutrient-dense fresh fruits and vegetables as these foods contain important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Conversely, a poor diet will increase your susceptibility to illness. A deficiency in one or more of these essential nutrients may prevent the immune system from functioning optimally.

READ MORE | How To Boost Your Immunity

2. Add extra nutritional support

Various studies show that we can strengthen the immune system with specific nutrients such as vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, beta carotene and coenzyme Q10.

Among these micronutrients, antioxidants are necessary to limit damage to important immune cells caused by free radicals, particularly during an infection.

While it is vital to get most of these micronutrients from a wholesome and balanced diet, supplementing whole food sources with high-potency vitamin and mineral products may help to address deficiencies or meet heightened demands for specific essential or conditionally essential nutrients during heavy training blocks.

In addition, supplements like glutamine and branched chain amino acids (BCAA) may also help to boost your immune system.

For instance, glutamine stimulates the activity of certain immune cells, but circulating levels can fall following intense or prolonged exercise. In addition, certain immune cells have a high capacity to utilise glutamine, but are unable to synthesise it in its original state and require a constant supply from blood plasma.

As BCAAs provide a substrate for glutamine production, supplementing with a comprehensive amino acid product may provide additional immune system support.

In these instances, replenishing levels with suitable supplements like Biogen L-Glutamine, Biogen Complete 9 Aminos and Biogen Iso-Whey (which provides all the BCAAs), can support recovery and reduce your risk of infection. 

Various herbs such as echinacea purpurea and elderberry are also included in immune-booster products like Biogen Immuno Boost. The combination of ingredients found in these formulations supports and stimulates the immune system, thereby reducing the risk of infection, and may assists in reducing the severity and duration of symptoms of colds and flu, upper respiratory tract infections and associated conditions.

READ MORE | Vitamin C or Vitamin D – What’s Best For Immunity?

3. Boost intestinal health

While bacteria generally have a bad rap when it comes to illness and infection, there are certain types that are beneficial to our health and may support our immune response.

Probiotic supplements like Biogen Supreme 9 Strain and Biogen Supreme 4 Strain probiotic supplements help to promote gastrointestinal health, which is a key factor in optimal immunity.

A growing body of research continues to affirm the immuno-stimulatory properties of probiotics while the ISSN’s position stand on probiotics affirms their potential benefit for athletes.

 

With regard to athletes, a meta-analysis on a small number of studies examining probiotic supplementation in highly active individuals indicated “modest clinical benefits in terms of reduced frequency, severity, and/or duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness”.

These findings indicate that probiotics may be able to reduce the likelihood of infections, especially after heavy bouts of training during winter.

For a comprehensive plan to supercharge your immunity, register and download the FREE and easy-to-follow Biogen Winter Immunity Toolkit.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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