Nutrition For The Immune System Essay

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Nutrition for the Immune System Building your defence line: Nutrition for the Immune System: eating to stay well during training and competition Introduction The immune system consists of a vast number of cells, tissues and messengers – for example, cytokines – that play a key role in protecting the body against infection and in healing after injury. In football and hurling terms its your half back and full back lines! The diets of most athletes have sufficient energy, macro- and micro-nutrients to maintain a healthy immune function and for most players resistance to illness and infection is unlikely to be compromised. However a combination of poor eating habits, busy work or studying schedules and family schedules alongside heavy training at some stages of the season can exert negative effects on the immune function. The stress to your system of training is influenced by the intensity and duration of exercise, the fitness level of the athlete and the balance between training and recovery practices. Many athletes falsely assume that high levels of nutrients and nutritional supplements automatically have a beneficial effect on immune function and health. However this is not the case as evidence has shown that the immune response can be impaired by both inadequate and excessive intakes of nutrients. What are the key “nutrient players” needed to maintain a healthy immune system? Carbohydrates: Carbohydrate is a critical fuel source for supplying energy/fuel to both muscle and immune cells. Undertaking large volumes of training with inadequate intakes of carbohydrate rich foods can compromise the immune function. Thus particular attention should be placed on the daily carbohydrate intakes during training and competition. Foods high in carbohydrate include: • Breads / Baps / Rolls • Breakfast cereals and porridge • Potatoes / Pasta / Rice •

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