Foods to Boost Your Immune System | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Foods to Boost Your Immune System

July 31, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

It's frustrating to train for a big race or make it past the first round of the playoffs, then suddenly become ill. Athletes are at high risk for colds and other fatigue-related illnesses due to the stresses of competition, constant interaction with their peers and busy schedules. Unfortunately, catching a bug can sabotage your performance, or keep you out of competition entirely.

You can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of contracting an illness. Proper nutrition, recovery and hydration are all critical for maintaining your immune system so it can fight off the germs that you will inevitably come in contact with.

Follow these food guidelines to keep yourself healthy and performing at your best.

  • Carbohydrates. Replenishing your energy stores is essential for keeping your immune system functioning at its peak. Make sure to take in carbs before, during and especially after competition to offset the suppressive effect of exercise on immune function.
  • Lean protein. Foods containing zinc also help support immune function. The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes, which help prevent illness. Examples include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
  • Iron deficiency anemia can also lead to decreased immune function and fatigue. Consume adequate amounts of iron from sources such as lean meats, poultry, nuts, beans, lentils, and dark or leafy greens. Also make sure to get your daily dose of vitamin C so the body can more easily absorb iron.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants every day to combat oxidative stress. Antioxidants are found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats) for their anti-inflammatory properties. Peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado and salmon are great options.
  • Choose foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut or Kombucha to enhance gastrointestinal and immune health.
  • Make sure to take rest days and engage in some relaxing activities!

Sources: Sports Nutrition and Cardiovascular Wellness (SCAN); Office of Dietary Supplements

Photo:  mrscienceshow.com

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 18,611,384
Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks
Views: 21,992,678
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,797,543

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 248,609
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 119,948
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

The Case for Red Meat

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

The Boston Cannons'