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Tuesday, 02 December 2014 22:07

Ways to avoid the winter blues - by Elaine Lowden

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Are there times when you have ignored a cough or a cold in the hope that it disappears? You continue with the same intense training sessions as before only for a chesty cough or a prolonged cold to develop, resulting in missed training sessions and reduced fitness levels, if symptoms persist.  It is important to ‘listen’ to your body and ease off your training when you are not feeling 100%. Do not panic, you will come back stronger and more determined than ever. 
Healthy athletes are less likely to be ill due to practicing a balanced diet and keeping active. The foods that you eat can actually help to ward off viruses and help to maintain a healthy body. However, sometimes your immune system is suppressed due to eating unhealthy foods and exercising your body too hard, this combined with an increase in colds and sore throats, especially during the winter months, can all contribute. As a result you may feel tired, experience headaches and generally feel run down.  
How can you achieve your full potential when you are feeling like this? To ensure a healthy immune system it is essential that the diet is packed full of vitamins, this can be achieved by consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Different colours of fruit and vegetables provide a range of essential vitamins for your body. The recommendation is consuming at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. 
Probiotics can maintain a healthy immune system by assisting vitamins to fight against viruses and increase the ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut. There are a number of brand probiotics drinks and foods on the market but there are natural foods containing these properties too such as; bananas, tomato and onion. These foods can easily be added into your diet.  Bananas for example are a practical snack to carry to training pre or post exercise, another option is chopping banana and adding to a breakfast cereal. Bananas also contain energy to enable you to sustain the duration of exercise or fuel you post exercise and also reduce symptoms of cramps due to the potassium content. Tomatoes and onions can be added to soups or in main meals for example in chilli con carne or in spaghetti bolognaise. 
There are further food options to boast your immune system for example; adding berries and grated apple to your breakfast cereal, combining mango, strawberries and banana to make a smoothie for a snack or a recovery drink after a match.  Chop up vegetables of your choice and make soup (if preferred for a meat option you can add some chicken), prepare tomatoes, yellow pepper, red pepper, spring onion, cucumber, grated carrot, as part of a salad for a healthy lunch.
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