As the weather becomes cooler and the cold and flu season peaks, it is important to look after yourself.
Australian Football players may be fit, but this does not provide protection against picking up bugs. In fact, athletes are often at a higher risk of developing colds and upper respiratory tract infections.
It has been found that the combination of large volumes of training and extremely low body fat levels can increase the tendency to pick up a cold.
Moderate exercise is actually good for our immune system but Australian Football players with heavy training schedules can experience extra stress on all body systems, including the immune system.
Colds and flu can have a negative effect on training and performance. The aim is to keep your immune system as strong as possible to help reduce the risk.
How does a healthy diet improve resistance to colds and flu?
Consuming adequate vitamins and minerals is essential for a healthy immune system. This can be achieved by following some easy steps:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Enjoy hearty vegetable soups
- Keep up your fluids
- Ensure adequate protein intake
- Minimal high fat/sugar processed foods
Eat healthy fats
Many footballers, particularly at AFL level, have extremely low body fat levels and this can increase the risk of getting sick easily. Eating enough total kilojoules through regular meals and snacks and including some healthy fats in the diet helps ensure body fat levels do not get too low.
Healthy fats are found in foods such as:
- Fish and seafood
- Olive/canola oil
- Peanut butter
These foods need to be consumed in volumes that are appropriate for the individual to ensure the right balance of good fats.
Eating well is an essential part of preparation and a balanced intake can help boost the immune system to keep you fit and healthy.