The gym is a breeding ground for germs, especially during cold and flu season. Everyone is sneezing, blowing their nose, and then touching gym equipment. Where’s the gym etiquette of wiping your hands clean, not just the equipment? Not to mention there’s now the coronavirus to worry about—your immune system is working overtime lately just to make sure you don’t end up on your back for an extended period of time.
Several studies have shown that intense training programs can put some stress on the body’s immune system, so gym rats are more likely to catch something from a sneeze droplet than the average Joe. Intense exercise can even put people at an increased risk of upper-respiratory tract infections, according to one study out of Scientific Reports.
“Intensive exercise produces a decrease in the immune system functionality which makes the body more vulnerable to infectious agents,” the researchers noted. “This period is known as an ‘open window’ to pathogens.” This flies in the face of the popular belief that people who workout more are more likely to shake off a cold, or even the coronavirus (which is just not true at all).
And while upping your immune system won’t 100 percent safeguard you from germs and viruses, increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals can help decrease the amount of time you’re on the sidelines. In other words, you might still get sick even if you eat all of these foods but you’ll be in bed for only three or four days instead of a week-and-a-half.
To prevent yourself from catching the gym-floor sniffles, give your immune system a boost with the following foods.
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Is your nose running and you’re having a hard time trying to catch it? Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit will help you keep up—they’re packed with immune-boosting vitamin C. The citrus fruit family is a staple during cold and flu season. Studies have shown that larger doses of vitamin C can shorten the duration and severity of your cold symptoms. Citrus fruits also contain a muscular benefit; they’re high in potassium, which is needed for fluid regulation and muscle contractions.
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This food item caught traction a few years ago, and it’s still proving itself that it’s still useful. Bone broth is created by simmering the bones for several hours with the goal of extracting minerals while the marrow is cooked down. The minerals that get released will help you bounce back quickly; those minerals are magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. While bone broth is boosting your immunity, it can also reduce joint and muscle pain since it’s packed with glucosamine.
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Considering drinking ginger tea or adding some ginger to a smoothie during your next cold? In a review published by the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, ginger contains gingerol and shagelol, which contain antimicrobial properties that can help your body ward off sickness. Additionally, ginger is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals and help boost your immune system.
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They’re a muscle-building staple because of their flavonoid (antioxidant) profile, which reduces free radical damage after a long lifting session. Research from the University of Auckland found that adults reduce their risk of catching the common cold by 33 percent when consuming foods high in flavonoids, like blueberries.
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Spinach is a classic superfood. It’s loaded with fiber, and vitamin C. Add this superfood to a meal by sautéing it with olive oil, or toss a cup of it into a protein smoothie.
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Up the flavor in your next meal with garlic. Garlic contains allicin, which is the main active ingredient that gives it that unique flavor and smell. A study published by Advances in Therapy demonstrated that garlic cut the risk of getting a cold by 63 percent.
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Build muscle while preventing a cold by eating salmon. The reason: salmon is high in zinc, an immune-boosting mineral. Additionally, you can pop some zinc within the first 24 hours of a cold to help reduce the duration of its symptoms.
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When you’re sick, it’s easy to become dehydrated, a reason why doctors say, “keep your fluids up.” Water acts as a natural detox, helping rid the body of harmful pathogens. It can also help break up congestion and prevent further infections.
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From shiitake to button, mushrooms are a suitable choice to boost your immune system. They’re rich in the polysaccharide beta glucan, which activates the immune system to prevent the common cold. Mushrooms also help control white blood cells, keeping them on alert for a possible infection.
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Your gut makes up 70 percent of your immune system. To keep it in peak condition, load up on yogurt. It’s a great source of probiotics, which help fight off the harmful bacteria in the gut.