The winter months mean more bugs and viruses going around, more sick days and potentially more days away from training. Training while you’re under the weather means that you are more likely to be fighting fatigue, so you won’t be able to put 100% into your session (and risk getting your team mates sick too). So what can you do to keep yourself as healthy as possible during the winter months?
Maintain good hygiene This might seem like common sense, but touching an infected surface is the easiest way to transmit germs and get yourself sick. Public transport, school, work kitchens, common room tables and gym equipment are all breeding grounds for germs. So if you get a workout in, don’t skip wash your hands and then go and eat a sandwich afterwards, there’s a high chance you’re passing over germs from your hands to your sandwich and into your body. Make sure you wash your hands before and after training, and always before eating. Vitamin C Vitamin C is thought to be the magic answer to treating and preventing a cold or flu. While Vitamin C isn’t enough on its own to prevent the onset of a cold or flu, there is some evidence to suggest that it may help to reduce the duration of the common cold.
Supplementing with a Vitamin C tablet or including plenty of Vitamin C rich foods when you feel yourself starting to get sick may help to reduce the severity of a cold.
Good sources of Vitamin C include: oranges, lemons, berries, kiwifruit, tomatoes, broccoli, capsicum, dark leafy greens and chilli.
Probiotics have been found to interact with immune cells in the gut with effects extending to other areas such as the respiratory tract. Studies have shown that probiotic supplementation can reduce the incidence, severity and/or duration of respiratory tract infections, thus reducing the number of days spent recovering and missing out on training.
Good sources of probiotics include: yoghurt, kefir, fermented products, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha and miso paste.
Cooler temperatures mean that we are more likely to be covered up in long sleeved tops and pants, so even if we do get some sun exposure, it’s not in direct contact with our skin. This puts us at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important for T-cell mediated immunity, which helps to fight off bugs that may infect our bodies.
Good sources of Vitamin D include: small amounts are found in eggs, salmon, mushrooms and fortified products such as margarine. The best source is the sun – aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure per day (try to expose your legs and arms too!)