Brace yourselfs people, it’s coming up to that time of the year – cold and flu season. You’re probably wondering why a post on sickness and flu, when you’re focused around fitness and body composition? The answer is simple, because if you contract a cold or flu this winter, it could take you out of action for weeks if it’s bad. And weeks out of action is not good when you’ve got fitness and body composition goals to work towards! Follow my nutrition tips below to build up your defences, bullet proof your immune system and dodge any germs that may be flying around your gym this winter.
Build A Rock-Solid Defence
We all love some salt, some more than others. Eating more this 5g per day can raise blood pressure and encourage water retention. The good news is you can still satisfy your salt-tooth whilst making yourself healthier with Himalayan rock salt. This salt is mined from the earth making it rich in over 80 minerals that will keep your immune system strong. A study conducted in The University of Graz, Austria, showed people who drank water spiked with Himalayan rock salt improved their respiratory conditions, organ functions, hydration and connective tissues. They also slept better and had more energy. Consider spiking your water with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt.
Turn Up The Heat With Turmeric
A spicy chili or curry may be just what you need to fend off unwelcome illnesses. Research conducted by the American Chemical Society found turmeric acts like a biochemical shield that inserts into your cells membranes, making them more stable, and therefor increasing their resistance to infection by sickness-causing microbes. Turmeric has also been shown to have strong anti inflammatory benefits which, if disaster does strike and you get sick, will help speed up your recovery rate.
Eat The Perfect Food Partnership
Many foods on there own have beneficial properties to our health and goals, but when two foods come together that we’re seemingly meant to be combined, they become unstoppable. Chances are if you’re a fan of Mexican food you’re already well aquatinted with this perfect food partnership. It can also pop up in sandwiches, wraps and salads. The perfect partnership – avocado and tomato. The reason why this partnership is so powerful is because when the healthy fats of avocado combine with brightly coloured vegetables like tomatoes, you absorb up to 15 times more of its beta-carotene. This antioxidant minimises free-radical damage.
Bring In Heavy Algae Artillery
Spirulina – the thick, green, germ-fighting machine that could save you from getting sick this winter. It’s packed with a superb profile of vitamins and minerals and 60% of it is actually protein. Research in Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise even showed this blue-green algae can improve immunity and increase your exercise endurance by up to 10%. Drinking it on its own takes fortitude, but adding it to a shake or smoothie with sweeter ingredients will take the edge off it and make it more palatable. Just excuse the colour.
Always Carry A Zinc Shield
Even a mild dietary deficiency of zinc can have negative implications on reproductive health, vision and skin health. Of most concern to us in this post however is diets low in zinc can diminish activity of the immune system. Opening yourself up to catch the flu. So making sure your zinc levels are topped up this winter is important. Foods high in zinc you should be eating include oysters, beef, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and spinach. You could also consider a high quality zinc supplement.
Vitamin D is synthesised in the body in response to sun exposure or it can be obtained from food/supplement form. Chances are though you’re not getting enough sun exposure this time of year to create optimal amounts of Vitamin D. Despite being called a vitamin, it’s actually more akin to a multipurpose hormone created by many cells within the body. For a long time vitamin D was simply looked at as a bone health vitamin, but clinical studies have confirmed its benefits branch out much further:
– Muscle strength
– Lean body mass
– Blood sugar regulation
– Insulin resistance
– Muscle power
– Male and female reproductive health
– Cardiovascular health
– Fat loss
– Immune function
– Prevention of obesity
– Treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure)
– Kidney health
– Bone strength and density
– Acts as an anti-depressant
– Protection against internal cancers
– Maternal health
To boost your levels of vitamin D this winter consider a vitamin D3 supplement and make sure you eat foods high in vitamin D such as eggs, mushrooms and fish. My favourite way to supplement with D3 is to take two larger doses over the course of a week. It’s been shown to increase vitamin D levels in the blood much more effectively than a smaller daily dose. For example 8000-10,000iu taken on a Sunday and Wednesday, as opposed to 2500iu taken every day.
Crush Germs With Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble essential vitamin well known for its anti-oxidant properties. It’s often used as a supplement to reduce the symptoms of a common cold and flu. Some studies have shown supplemental use of vitamin C was able to reduce the length of a cold in all populations by 8-14%. When you get struck with illness consider topping up your vitamin C levels by consuming foods such as oranges, bell peppers, berries, kale and broccoli in abundance or taking a supplemental recommended dose of 1000mg per day.