Immune System: Recovering Faster with Nutrition

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Tavis Piattoly- Podcast

Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LDN
Host and Presenter
Sports Dietitian 
Co-founder of My Sports Dietitian

We focus our attention on discussing the Immune System. Specifically, we will look at what puts our immune system under stress potentially triggering illness, infection, and hindering athletic performance. We also look at specific foods, supplements, and activities that can boost the immune system in order to enhance recovery, reduce our downtime and risk for illness, heal injuries faster, and improve athletic performance.

Podcast Notes

  1. What is the Immune System
  2. What are factors that impair our immune system
  3. How can diet play a role at protecting our immune system
  4. Are there any supplements that can help boost immune system

Resources and Links

Podcast Transcript

0:14  Welcome by Tavis Piattoly

1:28  Growth of My Sports Dietitian  

2:48  A look ahead at future podcasts 

4:42  Intro by Tavis Piattoly

5:13  What is the Immune System

  • A complex system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease or infection.

5:40  What are factors that impair our immune system

  • Germs, bacteria, pollution, smoking
  • Diet and exercise
  • Psychological stress
  • Age; the very young and old have weakened immune systems
  • We are all exposed to a lot of this stuff, and don’t even realize it.

7:41  What is the relationship between the immune system and athletes?

  • Inflammation
    • The first response of the immune system is to infection.
    • Symptoms of Inflammation include:
      • heat, redness, swelling and pain 
    • Usually caused by increased blood flow into the tissue due to:
      • Overtraining or excessive exercise
      • Poor recovery
      • Poor food choices
      • Lack of nutrient timing
  • Overtraining or excessive exercise
    • The immune system is weakened by too much exercise
      • Volume, frequency and intensity of exercise
    • Can lead to overtraining syndrome - too much training for events or competitions, exercising for long periods of time with very little rest and recovery leads to the body slowly shutting down.  
      • Signs and symptoms of overtraining syndrome:
        • Feel washed out, tired, drained
        • Low energy that doesn’t improve the next day
        • Aches and pains, soreness in lower body
        • Muscles and joints hurt
        • Performance starts to drop
        • Irregular sleep patterns
        • Headaches
        • Irritable mood
        • Sick more often
        • Depression
        • Appetite decreases
    • How to determine if you’re overtrained?
      • Measure your resting heart rate in the morning
      • Record heart rate in BPM in timed intervals
      • If it is 10-15 heartbeats above normal, you may be overtrained.
  • Lack of sleep
    • Need 7-8 hours a night
    • Why sleep is important:
      • Stress hormones (cortisol) in the body remain elevated with chronic lack of sleep.
      • Muscles, joints and immune system recover while asleep
      • You feel better!

13:22  How can diet play a role at protecting our immune system

Proper nutrition will reduce the chance of illness and plays a key role in recovery.

  • Causes of a weakened immune system:
    • Alcohol Intake: limit or keep to a minimum
      • Destroys the immune system
      • Toxic to immune dendritic cells
      • Intake makes you more susceptible to infection and disease
      • Performance decreases
      • Poor recovery 
    • Sugar intake
      • Acute short term hyperglycemia affects all major components of immunity and impairs the body’s ability to fight infection.
      • For athletes, if you like sweet foods or drinks, the best time to consume is right after exercise.
  • How to protect the immune system with diet
    • Antioxidant rich foods protect cells from damage from free radicals
      • Fight infection, help body repair quicker, anti-inflammatory
        • Fruits and vegetables
          • 5-10 servings per day
        • Nuts and seeds
        • Key nutrients to fight infection are vitamins C and E, zinc and selenium
      • Foods with the highest level of antioxidants per serving:
        • All beans and berries are loaded with nutritional value
        • Apples, sweet cherries, pecans, plums, prunes, honey, garlic, cabbage, mushrooms, oats, salmon (selenium), spinach, watermelon
      • Protein
        • Antibodies that fight disease are made of protein
        • Good sources of protein: Lean beef and pork, beans, soy products, seafood (zinc), nuts (magnesium)
        • Zinc and magnesium both help support a healthy immune system
        • How much protein?
          • 0.7-0.9g/lb
          • If strength training 3-5 days a week = 0.8-0.9g/lb
          • Don’t go over 1g/lb (difficult to metabolize)
          • 20g post workout is ideal  

26:20  Are there any supplements that can help boost immune system

  • 5 supplements that could help
    • Glutamine
      • Aids recovery from exercise and reduces infection rate.  
      • Stress decreases the muscle concentration of glutamine while the immune and gut cells show increased demand for glutamine during times of stress.
      • Supplementation of 0.1-0.3g/kg
    • Vitamin D
      • New research suggests that it boosts immune response
      • Blood level of 50 nmol/liter for a healthy immune system
    • Quercetin
      • Fights inflammation and allergies
      • Food sources: apples, onions, red wine
    • Glutathione
      • What is it?
        • A molecule made up of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamine. 
        • The body produces it, but is depleted by poor diet, pollution and toxins, medications, trauma, stress, aging and infections. 
      • Food sources: sulfur rich foods are really high in glutathione
        • Garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and collards 
      • Exercise boosts glutathione levels
    • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
      • Boosts glutathione levels
      • Bioactive whey protein 
        •  BiPro protein powder is pure whey protein isolate

38:41  Closing remarks from Tavis

  • Focus on foods to protect the body from infection and recover faster from exercise.

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