The Cheapest Medicine Around: Nutrition When You're Sick
Quality foods are the cheapest, most abundant and most effective “medicine” available to you. Your immune system is your strongest line of defense against the bacteria and viruses introduced to your body. Supporting health with adequate nutrition (along with a few other factors) is key in feeling your best. Here are some things to consider next time you feel a sickness coming on:
Did you know that the digestive system makes up over 70% of your immunity? There are chemicals and bacteria in your mouth, stomach, and intestines that help you break down your food and fight off infection. You can support the “good bacteria” by focusing on getting lots of pre- and probiotics in your diet. Here are some examples:
- Vegetables – garlic, asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions
- Fruits – citrus fruits, bananas, apples, berries, kiwi
- Nuts and seeds – flax seeds, chia seeds
- Healthy carbs – barley, beans, oats, wheat, quinoa, potatoes
- Dairy - yogurt, cheese, kefir
- Fermented foods - kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, soy sauce
Chicken soup your doctor wasn’t lying! This fan-favorite is full of anti-inflammatory nutrients and provides the fluids and electrolytes your body needs to heal ASAP.
Green tea can help boost B cell antibodies, which help us fight off infection.
Honey has antibacterial properties. It’s especially helpful to relieve a cough.
Elderberries if you can get your hands on them, this fruit has anti-viral properties!
Keep the water and electrolytes coming when you’re sick, especially if you have a stomach bug and you’re losing water at a faster pace than usual.
If you don’t log enough hours, your immune system becomes suppressed and is less effective in fighting off sickness. Prioritizing sleep (we’re looking at you, naps!) will speed up recovery.
High-intensity training like endurance/lifting/CrossFit will put more stress on your body and prolong recovery. Stick to lower intensity options like walking/jogging, swimming, cycling or yoga as your body heals.
Listen to Your Body
If you’re hungry, eat! If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Especially if you’re used to tracking your food and eating what you’ve planned for, think about this as a great chance to practice getting back in touch with your hunger signals!
Remember that focusing on recovery when you’re sick is more important than following your nutrition plan perfectly or sticking to your intense training schedule. A few days of recovery that get you to 100% sooner is more effective in the long run than feeling 50% for weeks!
You’re the ultimate caretaker of your body, and to stay in good standings with yourself, it’s important to take action in prioritizing your nutrition year-round. If you feel as though you aren’t getting enough nutrients in each meal, add some color and vitamins to your plate with these tips.
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