To hit our fitness targets, we need to train regularly and there is nothing like a cold to slow down and force you to take a break. Any cold gets better faster if you rest but a week of rest can really hurt your training goals. Do what you can to keep your immune system at its healthiest by taking a look at what you eat. Adding some key nutrients will help to support your immunity and keep you on track.
Where to look? The immune system needs some key foods to keep it up and running. From the basic building blocks of protein to key nutrients like vitamin C, getting a varied diet is key. Do include:
Fruit & vegetables
These are the place – the only place – to get vitamin C. Fruit is the better source for this nutrient so make sure you include 2-3 pieces of fruit every day. A small glass of fruit juice (150mls) will also help to top you up without overdoing it on the sugar. Smoothies are useful if you are not a great fruit eater or chop apples, melons or berries though salads to get them in that way.
Vitamin D & Vitamin B12 are two important vitamins for a normal, healthy immune system and salmon and tuna are great places to get them. Aim to get oil-rich fish in 2-3 times a week. You can try John West Creations with salmon or tuna for a tasty, convenient option for lunch and get into the habit of cooking fish for dinner every Friday.
Nuts & Seeds
When it comes to the immune system, zinc is the new vitamin C. Find it in seeds like sesame seeds and sunflower seeds as well as nuts like walnuts, cashews and Brazil nuts. Add seeds to breakfast porridge or smoothies and chop nuts though salads or use as a handy high protein snack.
Don’t underestimate this one. No matter what you eat, you will still run into problems if you don’t get enough rest. Rest days are important and sleep even more so. Make sure you get at least 7 hours a night with between 8 and 9 hours being best of all. And do try to get to bed early a few nights a week. Your body really benefits from getting the head down well before midnight. Remember: “An hour before midnight is worth two after”.
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.