13 Jan Best Tips On Boosting Your Immune System
It’s that time of the year where it feels like everyone is coming down with something. Whether it’s in the office, in the house or just on public transport – everyone is sniffing, coughing or carrying some form of illness.
Common questions we get asked include:
‘Should I still train?’ and ‘How do I boost my immune system?’
Here are some of our best tips written by RNT Coach Nathan Johnson.
If It’s More Than A Cough
There are no specific guidelines for what is optimal during this period. Some will say you should disregard any exercise. Others will say you should ‘sweat it out’.
Our answer? It depends.
In most cases, finding the middle ground is your best bet. No one know you like yourself so using a measured approach by rating yourself on the scale of ‘man flu’ (being 10/10) to feeling ‘a little off’ is the first step.
If you’ve got severe headaches, terrible migraines and bad congestion are symptoms for avoiding the gym completely. When you lift weights and increase your blood pressure and heart rate, you’re only going to make this worse – not a good feeling.
The best gauge for ‘should I go to the gym’ is anything more than a persistent cough and 4/10 sore throat / cold.
If you’re in the 0/10 to 4/10 bracket, just make sure you’re not doing anything in the 9/10 to 10/10 difficulty range of effort and intensity. Your immune system needs to be strong, so you should respect the effect the small symptoms are having on your body.
Manage Your Stress Response
When a cold or flu is on the rise, you’ll potentially get a few warning signs if you’re tracking specific data. Expect to see hunger go up, heart rate increase, sleep efficiency to drop, and a potential drop in handling other people’s BS!
If you’re really into your data, you’ll see Heart Rate Variability dive and fasting blood glucose rise too. These are based on the stress response of your body, so ensuring we are managing that will help with the ability of ‘feeling better’ at this time.
When symptoms are kicking in, the supplement route is your most effective way of mitigating this stress response, coupled with not training as hard.
When I feel something coming, my pre-bed routine is as follows (this is a big hitter on lowering the stress response!):
- Vitamin C – 1000mg pre-bed
- A bath with Epsom Salts. Put a Vitamin C tablet in the bath to increase the availability of the Epsom salts (pro tip)
- Put Olbas oil in the bath to clear sinuses
- 600mg Ashwaganda
- Lo-Fi Beats Playlist on Spotfiy (relaxing music)
- Pre-bed Meal of 50-80g carbohydrates (check with your coach as it’ll depend on your goals / phase)
- Ibuprofen (if achy)
This combination will go a long way in helping you relax and rest while you sleep, while mitigating your stress response.
Sleep is your best friend here, so make sure you’re clocking the hours to maximise recovery.
Don’t Fall For The ‘I Feel Sorry For Myself Diet
This tip is to put an end to the ‘I felt sorry for myself’, or ‘my family gave me food because I was ill’ excuse we receive on a weekly basis around this time of year.
You can’t let your emotions rule your decisions here. You need to give yourself a bit of tough love. How you think you should appease these emotions and feelings aren’t quite what will help here.
Here are the best tips during this tips:
1) You need your veggies. This is when your body is ‘under attack’, so you need all the vitamins and minerals you can get. During this time they will be getting depleted at a higher rate to fight off infwection, so make sure you’re staying well nourished with good. The added bonus is you’ll feel satiated, and won’t want to reach for ‘pity foods’.
2) Change honey for sugar free strepsils. Using honey as a way to reduce your sore throat has been passed through the ages. It’s stood the test of time and is still here as you hear of all the stories of it helping generations forever stay healthy. Truth is, if your goal is fat loss, it’s not a good idea. Multiple tablespoons of honey through the days and weeks will only eat into any calorie deficit at a rate of 64 calories per tablespoon, compared to 5 calories in one sugar free strepsil.
3) Inactivity means less not more. If you’re not moving much, and/or you’re taking the day off to recover, you’ll likely be moving a lot less. If you want to maintain your fat loss results during this period, you need to naturally reduce calories. Those who autoregulate their bodyweight well year-round will automatically reduce food when they’re inactive. However, if you’re someone who’s struggled with their weight for a period of time, or you’re susceptible to letting it go when you’re not feeling up to it will need to make a mindful decision here. If you’re this type, you’ll also likely use food as a way to feel better during this time, which only leads to more calories, and greater difficulty in maintaining results. Speaking from experience this is something I’ve learnt over time. I was that guy back in the day who’d sit on my couch all day playing Xbox working my way through a pack of biscuits while waiting for my mother to cook a ‘home treat’. I’m now a different person as I stay more conscious of my calorie intake during these times!
AV’s Secret Immunity Stack
I asked Akash, who’s known for staying a high performer year-round, what his secret immunity stack was, to which he replied:
“It’s very simple, and boils down to four key things.
1) Sleep. Whenever I feel run down, or feel like symptoms are coming, I make a conscious effort to sleep more. I won’t set an alarm, will get in bed super early, and will add in naps. The key is lots of rest and sleep.
2) Hydration. Such a simple tip, but so overlooked. When I feel run down, I boost my water intake and ensure I’m always hydrated through the day.
3) Spices. I pour turmeric, ginger and garlic all over my foods throughout the year. Do I have hard evidence to back up the effectiveness of my cooking practice? No. But plenty of research is linked to their immune boosting effects, so I’d rather cover my bases!
4) Vitamin D3. The game changer. This for me is the real secret. I’m a strong believer in taking Vitamin D3 year-round at a minimum of 5,000 IU, and up to 10,000 IU a day. If I ever feel run down, I take 20,000 IU for 3-5 days, and it never fails. This is one tip I’d encourage everyone to implement.”
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