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Sick Of It

athlete-fatigueDo you work out, eat well and take care of yourself yet often find you are sick or tired all the time?

Despite taking such good care of your body, if you are an avid exerciser and fitness enthusiast you can actually break down your immune system with overtraining. Many factors associated with overtraining compromise an athlete’s immune system. In fact, upper respiratory infections are actually very common in athletes.

This was a big topic during the training for my Nutrition Certification I just completed this past week. Let’s break it down.

What Happens?
When you exercise, there is an increase in stress hormones which leads to high inflammatory markers (bi-products of chronic stress). There is also a decrease in innate and acquired immunity.

Interesting Fact: 90 minutes after strenuous activity, your immunity is the lowest and you are more apt to get sick! It’s important to refrain from putting your hands near your mouth or eyes (the most susceptible areas of the body) post exercise & wash your hands immediately.

How Do I Keep The Sickness and Fatigue Away?

Protein
Protein is a key component to building immunity. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts. Your daily protein intake should be between 0.8-1.8 grams per 2.2 lbs. The high or low range depends on your activity level. An average adult needs about 0.8 – 1.2 g/2.2 lbs. where a strength athlete needs between 1.4-1.8 g/2.2 lbs.

Example: For a 150 pound active woman: divide 150 by 2.2lbs and multiply that number by about 1.2 grams of protein. Total = 82 grams of protein per day.

Vitamins and Minerals
There are several vitamins and minerals that work as anti-oxidants and help keep your immunity strong including Vitamin A, E, B6, B12, C and Folic Acid. Zinc and Iron are also important, but they should be ingested in moderation as too much can actually have the opposite effect and lower immunity. Most of these vitamins/minerals can be ingested in the food you eat: green leafy veggies, beans, eggs, dairy, lean meats, fruits and whole grains.

Ingest Carbs
Eating carbs post-exercise is said to help build your immune system and reduce stress hormones. We are not talking about eating a box of crackers or bag of pretzels – try to keep to “real” foods such as fruits, veggies and healthy grains.

Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical to helping your body function. Dehydration can be the main reason for fatigue. When you exercise, especially in hotter weather, it’s important to rehydrate 125-150% of fluid loss during exercise. Thirst is regulated in the brain. You are already very dehydrated when you even begin to feel thirsty.  You have to stay ahead of it.

Probiotics
I have professed my belief in probiotics for years – studies suggest probiotic and prebiotic ingestion in athletes reduces sick days.

Polyphenols
Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. They are said to be great stress inhibitors and promote immunity. These can be found in foods like kale, hot peppers, onion, apples, etc. Here is a list of 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols.

Sleep
As I preach to my clients all the time, adequate rest is crucial for an athlete’s recovery and keeps stress hormones low and repairs mental and physical function. Consistent sleep patterns and getting enough sleep to repair your body is crucial in keeping your immunity & performance levels high and stress hormones low.

Stress
And of course, keeping regular stress at bay is a big component. The more stressed you are, the lower your immunity levels and higher your fatigue. Your body may even start to hold onto some fat. The unfortunate result is when we are chronically stressed by life crises and work-life demands, we are prone to getting an extra layer of “visceral fat” deep in our bellies.

Nutrition is a big component of your day to day. It dictates everything – how your body responds to stress, your energy level and a strong immune system. Getting enough anti-oxidants, keeping stress levels in control and being able to replenish & repair your body are key to optimizing your health and energy levels.

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Drinking Your Greens

The explosion of green smoothies and juices is everywhere.  Within the last couple months, 3 new juice places have opened within one mile of my house and grocery stores and Starbucks are now selling pre-packaged juices.  Are they as good for you as they seem and what are the differences?  My friend, Elizabeth Girouard, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, wrote an excellent article that answers many of these questions and explains why we all should give green drinks a try.  We have posted a portion of her article below.  Read on to learn more.

green-juice-grape-kale-5

I am often asked:  What’s the rage with Green Smoothies? 

This is a great question.  Many of my Healthy Eating Challengers still start off their days with a Green Smoothie – and here are a few reasons why!

Green Smoothies are:

1)  an easy way to get in more than 3 servings of vegetables

2)  easier to digest since the blender starts the digestion process for you by breaking  down the veggies’ cell walls.  This means your body can quickly assimilate the nutrients.

3)  a great vitamin, mineral, phytonutrient and anti-oxidant infusion to start the day.

4)  a nutrient dense powerhouse that can improve your immunity to colds, flus and other potential bugs.

5)  able to help alkalize our bodies which reduces our susceptibility to disease

6)  filled with dark leafy greens that have a lot of chlorophyll which delivers oxygen to our bodies that can increase our energy levels.

7)  able to help diminish cravings and reduce hunger as it is providing nourishment to your body.

8)  able to help you lose weight as you are adding in more vegetables and crowding out the less beneficial foods for your body!

Other related questions that I often receive are:

What’s the difference between juicing and blending (smoothies)?  And, is one better than the other?  And, does juicing increase my blood sugar?

Read the rest of the article at: http://tinyurl.com/pwr8w5h

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Vitamins and Minerals: What, Why & How Much?

Vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients, part of the 6 Essential Nutrients, required for your body to turn food into energy.  Whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals, but it sometimes difficult to figure out if you are getting enough from the foods you eat.  Below is a list of the most important vitamins and mineral women need and suggestions as to the best food sources.  Note: Recommended daily allowances (RDA) listed below are for an average 45 year-old female.Healthy-Nutrition-For-Optimal-Tennis-Fitness

Calcium:

  • Why you need it:  The body uses calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and to carry messages through the nervous system.  Women start to lose bone density in their twenties which can lead to osteoporosis over time.  Calcium is one of the best defenses against bone loss.
  • Where to find it:  Milk, cheese, yogurt and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale.
  • How much you need: 1000mg.  Do not exceed 2,500mg.

Iron: 

  • Why you need it:  Iron carries oxygen in the body, aids in the production of red blood cells, supports immune function and cognitive development, and is essential for cell growth.
  • Where to find it:  Lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, cereals, whole-grains, beans and dark leafy vegetables. Also remember that vitamin C rich foods enhance absorption of iron.
  • How much you need: 18mg.  Do not exceed 45mg.

Magnesium:

  • Why you need it:  Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping heart rhythms steady, supporting a healthy immune system, regulating blood sugar levels and promoting normal blood pressure.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans and halibut.  Note that a diet very high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed.
  • How much you need:  320mg.  Do not exceed 350mg in supplement form.

Vitamin A:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin A ensures proper development and function of eyes, skin and immune system and may prevent some types of cancers.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, dairy, liver, fish and fortified cereals.
  • How much you need: 2,310 IU.  Do not exceed 10,000 IU.

Folate (Vitamin B9): 

  • Why you need it:  Folate helps to produce and maintain new cells.  It is necessary for proper brain function for mental and emotional health, and helps protect against birth defects.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, fruits and beans.  It is also often added to cereals, breads, pasta and rice.
  • How much you need: 400 micrograms.  Do not exceed 1,000 micrograms in the synthetic form.

Vitamin C:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin C facilitates normal growth and development, and repairs bodily tissue, bones and teeth.  It is used to produce collagen, functions as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals and boosts the body’s immune system.
  • Where to find it:  Most fruits and vegetables especially citrus fruit, red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries.
  • How much you need: 75mg.  Do not exceed 2,000mg.

Biotin:

  • Why you need it:  Biotin plays an essential role in energy production and the metabolism of sugar and fats.  It is also believed to aid in healthy hair, nails and skin.
  • Where to find it:  Nuts, eggs, soybeans, cauliflower, fish, avocados and berries.
  • How much you need:  There is no RDA, but generally 30 to 100 micrograms.

Other B Vitamins:

  • Why you need them: The B vitamins help the body convert food into fuel for energy.  They contribute to healthy skin, hair, and eyes and also help to maintain muscle tone, metabolism, nervous system functions and memory.
  • Where to find them:  Fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and many fortified cereals and whole grains.
  • How much you need: 
    • B1 (Thiamine):  1.1mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B2 (Riboflavin):  1.1 mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B3 (Niacin):  14mg.  Do not exceed 35/mg in supplement form.
    • B6 (Pyridoxine):  1.3 mg.  Do not exceed 100mg.
    • B12 (Cobalamin):  2.4 mg.  No upper limits have been set.                         

Vitamin D:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in our bones and it is needed for bone and cell growth.  It also helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fortified mils and cereals, eggs yolks and fish.  The body can make Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.    
  • How much you need:  15 micrograms.  Do not exceed 100 micrograms.

 Omega-3:

  • Why you need it:  Omega-3 assists in proper brain function, helps reduce high blood pressure and calms inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fish, especially salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, flax seeds and walnuts.
  • How much you need:  There are no standard doses for Omega-3.  Check with your doctor to find out your specific needs.

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  • Virginia

    Great information!

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