Progressive overload is imperative in order to see long-term progress and success within a training program. Unfortunately for some, there may be things standing in the way of the ability to continually overload month after month after without interruptions.
One of those things is illness.
Although it is important for each of us to get sick once or twice a year in order to keep a healthy immune system, some individuals experience illness much more frequently, causing more missed days at the office and derailing them from the progress they have made in the gym.
Believe it or not, it is possible to decrease the number of times you are getting sick with proper nutrition and lifestyle protocols. Below are a few important factors related to either strengthening or weakening the immune system. The stronger our immune system, the better it becomes at fighting off viruses and bacteria in order to keep us healthy and energized throughout the year!
“Sleep fights against infection and sickness by deploying all manner of weaponry within your immune arsenal, so much so that even one night of poor sleep increases your risk of illness significantly.” - Matthew Walker, PhD
Have you ever noticed a trend of contracting some sort of illness after a vacation characterized by minimal sleep and lots of travel? This is no coincidence as sleep plays a vital role in your immune function. Decrease your sleep to fewer than seven hours per night and your immune system will suffer dramatically.
We recommend seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. To read more about the importance of sleep, check out this blog post.
Conscious breathwork is the most effective way to reduce cortisol, a hormone that is released in excess during stressful situations. As you focus on long exhales, your body naturally moves into a parasympathetic (relaxed) state by slowing down your heart rate.
Stress reduces the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens by suppressing the number of lymphocytes in the body. Lymphocytes are a crucial part of the immune system as it helps your body fight bacteria, viruses and other toxins that make you sick.
We recommend 100 conscious breaths per day to help with stress management. Other benefits of conscious breathwork include calming the nervous system and becoming more present.
For more information about stress management and the importance of perception of stress, check out an older blog post here.
FEEDING HEALTHY BACTERIA
Having a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, etc.) is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Heal the gut and you heal yourself” -Gerald E. Mullin MD.
One way to be proactive in optimizing gut health in order to support immunity is by feeding the gut with good bacteria. This can be done by taking a daily probiotic or by adding fermented vegetables to your meals throughout the day.
The current literature on probiotics suggests taking 25-50 billion CFU, one to three times per day
- Effective in reducing symptoms and severity scores in patients with IBS (2)
- Specific strain recommendations remain to be concluded (3)(4)
- Current recommendations suggest using an equal dosage of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species (5)
The thymus is an organ that matures T-cells and sits right on top of the stomach while the spleen, the largest lymphatic organ in the body, is located directly above the large and small intestines. By compromising the health of your gut, you are also compromising the effectiveness of your immune system.
Because 70% of your immune system cells are created around the gut, it is also important to consume nutrient-dense and easily digestible foods. Processed foods that are difficult to digest can cause gaps within the junctions of your intestines (also known as leaky gut), which can compromise the effectiveness of your immune system. Avoiding processed foods and foods that the body is intolerant to are an important process in promoting a healthy and strong immune system.
To learn more about food intolerances and how they affect us inside and outside the gym, read our latest blog post here.
By following the basic lifestyle guidelines below, you can dramatically increase your quality of life, whether that be fewer sick days, better energy and mood balance throughout the day, more quality time with your family and/or becoming the person you have always strived to be.
- Adequate movement
- Sunshine exposure throughout the day
- Increasing protein consumption
- Managing blood sugar
- Proper hydration
- Consistently getting enough sleep each night
All it takes a little guidance and accountability in more things than just a training program. If you are interested in learning more about how Central Athlete supports each individual through nutrition and lifestyle protocols along with a personalized training plan that is aligned with the client’s deepest priorities, click the link below to schedule a strategy session!