The cold and flu season of 2022-23 looks like one of the worst in recent times in the UK. For athletes, this poses a real threat to the consistency of our training.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a stop-start training block because you keep picking up one illness after the other.
We want to work hard as athletes and if our consistency breaks down, it stops us from hitting our long-term goals.
We have the power to increase our protection against illnesses, though. If you know you struggle to get all the nutrients you need from your diet, there are some supplements you can take to improve your immune system.
Zinc is crucial for a healthy immune system. It supports tissue barriers in the body that help keep dangerous bacteria and viruses at bay. Zinc is so important for our bodies’ defences that some research shows 16% of all deep respiratory infections worldwide are caused by a zinc deficiency.
People have been using vitamin C tablets to support their immune systems for decades. It plays an important role in supporting immune cells so they can better fight off infections. It also acts as an antioxidant by neutralising free radicals that can harm the body.
Vitamin D can be made by absorbing sunlight but we get less of this in the winter months so supplements become more important. It helps improve the ability of white blood cells to fight off pathogens as well as protect us against inflammation in the body, which improves the immune response.
Curcumin is the powerful compound found in turmeric, the Indian spice that’s been associated with many health benefits for generations. It’s a strong anti-inflammatory and it improves antibody responses. It also acts as an antioxidant, similarly to vitamin C, to protect the body against oxidative stress.
Elderberry extract is less well-known than some of the other supplements on this list, but research shows it can have a strong immune-boosting effect. It can be bought in tablet or syrup form and can help the body fight off bacterial and viral infections. Research is still fairly limited, but studies suggest it can decrease your chances of contracting upper respiratory tract infections.