How to boost your immune system

Over the past 12 months most people have thought more about their immune system than ever before.

We are constantly exposed to foreign invaders like viruses, parasites and bacteria, and the immune systems job is to respond immediately and protect us from harmful microbes and diseases. The effectiveness of a vaccine is also largely dependant on how your immune system responds.

The stronger your immune system, the less likely you will fall ill or unwell with exposure to pathogens. This is critically important when you are training for months in the lead up to a race.  You don't want to fall sick during the taper week.


So how do you boost your immune system?

We can look at it two ways:

  1. What can you do to limit the factors that depress the immune system?
  2. What can you do to boost your immune system?


5 key factors that depress the immune system:

  1. Environmental toxins – pollution and excess alcohol
  2. Excess Weight/Obesity
  3. Poor diet – one that is lacking in nutrients
  4. Chronic Stress – due to the hormones that are released
  5. Lack of sleep and rest – you need 7-9 hours’ sleep per day

You have control over all 5 of these factors via your lifestyle and dietary choices.

There are two other factors – but we don’t really have control over these, the first is ageing, and the second is autoimmune or immunodeficiency disorders.


5 key factors to boost the immune system:

  1. Nutrient dense diet - reduce processed foods or poor-quality calories
  2. Healthy Microbiome – supported with high fibre foods such as wholegrains, vegetables and legumes
  3. Deficiency in key nutrients: Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin A and B Vitamins – some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet are Shellfish like Oysters and Mussels, Sardines, Potatoes, Eggs, Liver, Kale, Berries, Seaweed, and my favourite Dark Chocolate.
  4. Regular Moderate Exercise – Locker Room members should have this covered!
  5. Diet high in Antioxidants – green tea, berries, dark coloured vegetables like silverbeet, beetroot, kale, red cabbage, and again - dark chocolate!

Endurance running compromises the immune system as oxidative stress is increased; it is important to counter this with an increase in Anti Oxidant foods to counter the free radicals and restore balance.  Reducing oxidative stress is also critical as it helps to protect damage to the mitochondria – the powerhouse of our energy production.

Many athletes benefit from good quality antioxidant supplements, such as CoQ10, especially if your diet is lacking in these essential nutrients.

This article was written by Tamara Madden from Mad on Nutrition - If you need some help with your nutrition, or find that your immune system is not coping, please give her a call, or jump online and book in a consultation.