Athletes – Sick, tired and slow? You are only as strong as your immune system.

February 06, 2017

Immune SupportBy: Jennifer Tanner, Naturopathic Doctor

Your alarm clock buzzes and you press snooze…again. You miss another work out but don’t care because they haven’t been that good lately. You finally get up and realize your cough is still there. Argh, what’s going on?

Poor performance, persistent fatigue, disturbed sleep, altered appetite / moods and frequent illness are all signs that your immune system is struggling. We need this defence against invasion of foreign microorganisms. Repetitive or chronic upper respiratory tract infections can be your bodies way of telling you it has been pushed too hard.

But isn’t working out healthy for me? Yes, but the two extremes of being sedentary or overtraining lead to increased incidences of illness. Lifestyles outside of the optimal zone may leave us vulnerable to viruses and bacteria for approximately 3-72 hours after prolonged, rigorous work outs. Psychological stress can be an additive factor to the effects of intense exercise on immune function. Sounds like its time to take a break! Optimal rest paired with a balanced training schedule lead to better performance.

Athletes can put a lot of pressure on their body. During lowered immunity, it can be tough to overcome this additional stress. Supplementing can balance your expenditure of nutrients and prevent you from feeling chronically drained. Here are few of my favourites to get athletes through the winter months:

* Green products such as spirulina not only give your immune system a boost but improve stamina.

* Probiotics could improve immune function, enhance recovery from fatigue and maintain a healthy GI tract, all of which could positively affect athletic performance.

* Did you know kiwis are packed full of Vitamin C? This mini powerhouse not only supports a healthy immune system but plays a role in reducing muscle damage markers.

* Astragalus is an adaptogen used to prevent and treat colds and upper respiratory infections by supporting the immune system.

* Zinc is a mineral that can be sweated out. Regardless of how sweaty you are, most athletes will still maintain normal levels. Short term dosing can be considered during times of illness.

Because inadequate nutrition can affect almost all aspects of your body, including the immune system, a well-balanced diet is important. Book your appointment today to find out what supplements you should be taking to support your system.


Dr. Jennifer TannerDr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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