Immunity for Athletes
The normal diet should provide ample carbohydrate at all times, accounting for 60% or more of
total calories. Low-carb diets should be avoided. For longer (90-plus minutes) or very
intense sessions, 500-l,000mls of carbohydrate drink containing 60g of carbohydrate per litre should be ingested
Immunity can be adversely affected by any number of nutrient deficiencies. Athletes should have their
diet rich in whole unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables, contains adequate high-quality sources
of protein and is low in fatty, sugary, fast or processed food. A broad-spectrum multi-vitamin/mineral supplement
may be beneficial in preventing a nutrient shortfall, but large doses of any single nutrient should be avoided as
this could create imbalances leading to impaired immunity.
The evidence is too mixed for a firm recommendation but, given its low toxicity and cost, athletes wishing to take a modest supplement (200-l,000mgs per day) have little to lose;
Although beneficial in the clinical setting, there's little hard evidence that it offers immune
protection to athletes;
Echinacea does not appear on the lOC's banned substances list for 2004, those subject to
drug-testing should be aware that all herbs contain a number of biologically active ingredients which, under
certain circumstances, may inadvertently produce a positive result;
Although the early indications are promising, very little data exists on the benefits of probiotics
for athletes. Foods like live yoghurt and other fermented products can be included in the diet if desired,
especially as they are also rich in other nutrients; indeed, they are recommended after antibiotic treatment. To
date there's insufficient evidence of the benefits of supplementing the diet with probiotics, although this may
change in the near future;
Athletes should have plenty of sleep, more relaxation, minimise emotional stress and fatigue where possible.
Hygine is very important for athletes, wit regular hand washing as to reduce the risk of transferring virus
particles to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat.