Nutrition & The Dreaded Cold and Flu...

The days are getting colder and shorter, and with that, a number of runny noses, loud coughs, and sore throats are upon us. But, what if you could prepare yourself from a nutritional standpoint in order to stop the nasty cold/flu from rearing its head ugly head, or if it does, send it packing quicker than normal…

Winter is upon us. And we’re willing to bet that the majority of you are already feeling its effects. Head colds, runny noses, sneezes and coughs. Perhaps energy levels are down a little, and the last thing you want to do is get to the gym, track, or field and work on improving yourself…

Luckily for you, we’ve got some nutrition focus points to help young athletes both a, minimise their chances of getting sick from the cold/flu, and b, helping them recover from it quicker so that they can get back to doing what they love

Preventing The Flu/Cold

Two words - prebiotics. probiotics.

You may have well heard of probiotics before, as they’re simply the bacteria that help us recover from when we get sick. Our gut (and bodies in entirety) are full of them - some better than others. But we can inoculate the gut with better forms of bacteria through the types of foods we eat - such as yoghurt, cheeses, fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi), pickles, and soy sauce

These bacteria need to be nourished however, as they are living creatures - and this is where prebiotics come into play - as they’re forms of semi-digestible fibre that the good bacteria breakdown. These sources include:

  • vegetables: asparagus, leeks, onion, garlic
  • carbohydrates: beans, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • fruits: apples, bananas, berries, citrus
  • fat sources: flax or chia seeds

Our aim should be to consume 1-2 serves per day of probiotic-rich foods, higher if we’re looking to minimise our risk of becoming sick. And luckily, if we’re not lactose intolerant, we can get these serves in from dairy sources. If required, we can also choose a probiotic supplement, such as Inner Health Plus, to help us increase our intake or probiotics


What If You’re Already Sick…

1) Vitamin C: this works for some, and not for others, but research has shown it’s beneficial effects of recovering from the dreaded flu faster than without. Great sources include capsicum, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple, and kiwi fruit. You can also try squeezing some fresh lemon juice in some warm water to drink, which is also great for the liver too

2) Garlic: yep, not just great for vampires, it’s great for warding off the cold and flu too. And it’s all thanks to a compound called allicin, which helps protect garlic itself from insects and microorganisms. You can add garlic to soups, stir-fry’s, sauces, and roast it with roasted vegetables for a winter warmer

3) Fluids: this is a must every day, but more so when sick due to the fact that our bodies will lose more water than normal through mucus secretions, and coughs. Increasing water intake helps to compensate for this, as well as helping to loosen the mucus & relieve congestion

Biggest Takeaways:

- Increase your intake of both Prebiotics and Probiotics to help stave off sickness in the cooler months (and year round)
- Increase your intake of Vitamin C rich foods, garlic, and water to help say goodbye to the cold and flu, which will have you back playing the sport you love quicker than you imagined

Nick Maier