Giving your immune system a boost

Greater protein intake is associated with a higher quality diet that includes more vitamins and minerals.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that populate your gut. Most of your immune system is in your gut so you will want to keep it healthy. Studies have been done on probiotic supplements. I’ll post more information on this tomorrow.

Zinc is important for the immune system and helps maintain integrity of the skin, one of the first lines of defense against infection. Zinc deficiency can delay wound healing and suppress immune system functioning. Studies examining supplemental zinc treatment and the common cold have produced varied results. However, zinc consumed within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms helps reduce both the duration and severity of common colds in healthy individuals.

The research on vitamin C supplementation, immune functioning and prevention of illness in athletes is, at best, uncertain. At least one study suggested vitamin C supplementation improves aspects of immune functioning while several others show no benefit. I’ll save the details of some of these studies for a more in-depth blog post on immune health that I will post over the next few days. The bottom line: vitamin C supplementation won’t hurt you (unless you are trying to make muscle gains in the weight room; I’d argue this is far less important at this time then staying healthy) and it might help. You’ll pee the rest out.

Beta-glucans from fungi and yeast support immune system functioning and may also reduce incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes. Find beta glucan naturally in mushrooms, particularly shitake, maitake, reishi, shimeji and oyster mushrooms. Brewer’s yeast also contains beta glucan. Studies have been done with larger doses – those found in supplements. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to add mushrooms to your diet. And for those who are not athletes you can pick up Brewer’s yeast as well. Athletes who are drug tested – there is no Brewer’s yeast that is 3rd party tested.

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