Taking care of your immune system is always important, but even more so if you are facing any stress in your life. Stress can be in many forms, including a heavy training load, nutritional stress from a sub-standard diet, or physiological stress from an intense job or challenges in your personal life. And what happens when we get stressed, tired, or run down? We get sick. Which is the last thing you want if you’re training for a big event, or you’re just simply trying to stay as healthy as possible in everyday life.
It starts with your Immune System
Your immune system does an amazing job of defending you against disease causing micro-organisms. However, sometimes it fails, and infections can invade and take hold. Your first line of defence is a healthy lifestyle to ensure that your immune system is strong enough to fight potential illnesses and prevent negative impacts on your health.
The immune system is powerful and complex, and to function well the whole system requires balance and harmony. Following a healthy lifestyle is the best strategy to keep your immune system strong.
This includes a combination of a good diet, exercise, adequate sleep, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol, psychological health and maintaining a healthy weight.
The role of a nutritious diet
A varied diet consisting of a range of vitamins and minerals is required for the healthy function of all cells, including immune cells. Certainly, a deficiency of nutrients can alter the body’s immune response.
Some nutrients have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein, and it is important to include a range of these foods in your diet such as citrus fruit and greens such as spinach and broccoli.
Free Radicals and Antioxidants
Chemical reactions constantly occur in your body to generate the energy you require to sustain yourself on a daily basis. These chemical reactions often release toxic by-products called free radicals that can cause fatigue, damage muscles, and impair recovery.
During exercise, you create greater amounts of energy and therefore more free radicals are released in your system which can delay recovery and hinder your performance.
We know that a certain amount of oxidative stress is required to adapt to exercise and improve from it. Rather than taking an antioxidant tablet, experts advocate ingesting your antioxidants from real food sources. The aim is to source foods high in antioxidant nutrients where possible such as blueberries and broccoli for example.
The Role of Supergreens
Supergreens are regarded as the most nutrient-dense foods in the world, and so offer a convenient solution to provide your body with optimal nutrition and potentially ward off illness. Supergreens are a natural nutritional powerhouse that can help boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy digestion, all alongside a balanced diet. They offer a more holistic approach to nutritional supplementation because they not only provide you with a source of antioxidants but also a host of other nutritional elements.
Benefits of Supergreens:
- High in phytonutrients: they contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which protect against cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, and cancer
- Good source of fibre: support a healthy colon, clear cholesterol from your bloodstream, and speed digestion
- Provide digestive enzymes: they help your body to absorb other nutrients, including proteins
- Heal tissues: they potentially stimulate the growth of new skin tissue in wounds
- Good source of calcium: your body can absorb more calcium from most greens than it can from dairy products (1)
Your Body as a Whole
Your body will benefit first and foremost from a diverse and nutrient rich diet. Coupled with healthy lifestyle factors such as plenty of sleep, exercise and avoiding excess alcohol and your immune system will have the best chance of performing optimally to ward off illnesses.
Understand that there is a time and a place for nutritional supplements when facing stressors and using them in addition to a healthy diet can really add to the overall nutrient range of your daily intake. Taking care of the small daily stressors during a heavy training load can make all the difference come race day.