by Holly Cuozzo
I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy in this hectic (and confusing) time! Between daily updates on COVID-19, closures changing our daily routines, and changing weather, it’s hard to figure out what we should be doing to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy.
From a nutrition/lifestyle standpoint, doing the basics consistently can be a huge help in maintaining your health. Please consider the following to stay safe and healthy now, and to build habits that will help you in the long-term.
Eat the Rainbow!
In addition to eating enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats to support your daily life and your CrossFit habit, make sure you get plenty of colorful fruits, veggies, and fungi! These contain a variety of micronutrients that can help lower inflammation and fight bacteria and viruses.
If the prospect of eating or preparing anything green makes you nervous, consider a daily multivitamin or a serving of green powder in a smoothie. Real food is always best, but any step towards getting your nutrients in is better than nothing. But, more is not always better. Depending on your current diet, including a few extra servings of fruits and veggies, substituting highly-processed foods for some of the following foods, or taking only one suggested serving of these supplements daily will do the trick.
Nutrients to Look Out For
Vitamins A, B, and C are antioxidants, which can improve immunity by helping in the fight against environmental toxins.
Plant sources: Red, orange, and yellow fruits and veggies; dark, leafy greens; soybeans; chickpeas
Animal Sources: Eggs and poultry; shrimp
Omega-3s help to fight against inflammation, which can help with immunity.
Plant sources: Flax, chia, and hemp seeds; walnuts; algae
Animal sources: Fatty, cold water fish such as trout, salmon, and sardines
Magnesium helps to facilitate the reactions our bodies carry out to help us recover and stay healthy
Sources: whole grains; dark, leafy greens; beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; dark chocolate
Zinc is an immunity powerhouse. It also facilitates reactions our bodies need to optimize recovery and immunity.
Plant sources: Beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; mushrooms
Animal sources: Eggs and poultry; red meat
Plant-based? Look at eating more Brazil nuts or sunflower seeds to ensure you’re getting enough selenium. This can be a powerful antioxidant, but if you eat red meat, poultry, or eggs regularly, you are likely getting enough.
Quality and Quantity of Sleep Affect Your Body’s Response to Stress
Our bodies respond to stress by amping up inflammation to fight back. We can recover from short-term stress (like a tough workout) by rebuilding broken down tissues so we are stronger for the next effort. That’s how we get stronger! But, when we don’t sleep or recover well, we subject our bodies to a more chronic stress, which leaves us weaker and more susceptible to illness.
Make sure you are exercising enough to feel good and perform well, but not so much that you start to feel run-down. Then, after the workout, make sure you recover hard by getting plenty of quality sleep, eating enough food, and de-stressing as best as you can (Breathe! Meditate! Laugh! Read!)
Speaking of Getting Enough… Stay Well-Fed and Hydrated
One of the best ways for us to recover is to eat plenty of food so we feel vibrant and energetic, rather than weak and foggy. Our bodies need energy (calories) to refuel and rebuild, especially if we’re fighting stress and illness on top of our normal bodily tasks. Eating plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will help your body to do what it needs to do, while helping you feel strong and satiated.
Now is Not a Good Time to “Sweat It Out”
Exercise is a form of stress. It temporarily lowers your body’s defenses as it works to rebuild itself bigger, stronger, and better. When you exercise “just enough,” you will see these positive changes! However, studies show that people who over-train are more likely to get sick than sedentary people. And if your defenses are already compromised because you’re fighting an illness, that extra workout session just might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Keep it strong, keep it clean, and keep it fun!
MSC, CSC, CPT
Coach, Second Wind CrossFit