No serious bodybuilder, athlete, or exerciser wants to be sidelined by the cold, flu, or oth-er pesky infection. But it happens – and for various reasons. One has to do with the po-tentially “dark side” of exercise: In certain circumstances, exercise can suppress your immune system, which is your defense against infections and illness, by altering hormonal and biochemical functions in the body. Not to worry, though: In most situa-tions, exercise does the opposite. It enhances your immune system . But what of those cases where exer-cise impairs immune defenses?According to scientific research, these can occur under the following cir-cumstances1: • You’re under mental stress. • You’re undernourished. (Re-search indicates athletes consume about 25 percent fewer calories than they need, leading to deficiencies of many essential nutrients.) 2 • You exercise in a carbohydrate-depleted state (this increases the circula-tion of stress hormones in your body, plus harms immune-protective substances in the body). • You’ve attempted quick weight loss through caloric deprivation.
You’ve practiced improper hy-giene.The good news is that you can protect yourself from infections with improved nu-trition and lifestyle practices. Here’s a look at how:1. Supplement with extra carbsSupplementation with carbohydrate beverages – be-fore, during, and after exercise – has been shown to strength-en immune responses . For example, it reduces levels of the hormone cortisol in blood. That’s good, since cortisol suppresses immune response . Carbo-hydrate supple-mentation also appears to protect various types of immune cells from weakening .3 If you’re on the Parrillo Nutri-tion Program™ a good supplement choice is our ProCarb™ For-mula, which can be used before, during, and after a workout.2. Consume whey protein supple-mentsResearch shows that whey protein diets in-crease the amount of glutathione in body tissues. Gluta-thione is a peptide (an amino acid de-rivative) that is involved in strengthening immunity. The elevation of glutathione has been shown to inhibit the development of several types of tumors, ac-cording to numerous studies .4Whey protein is found in the follow-ing products Optimized Whey Protein™, Hi-Protein Powder™, 50/50 Plus Pow-der™, Parrillo Sports Nutrition Bars™, Parrillo Protein Bars™, and Parrillo Energy Bars™.3.
Beware of the “overtraining myth.”“Overtraining” refers to poor perfor-mance in training and competition, and its symptoms include fatigue, frequent illness, disturbed sleep, and moodiness.5Overtraining, however, is simply “un-derrecovery” or “undereating” – not taking in enough nutrients to fully recover from your workouts. If ample nutrients are not provided, intense workouts won’t do much good. But once you get in the habit of mak-ing your nutrition as intense as your training, your workouts will be much more produc-tive, and you’ll see results much quicker.Make sure you remain in a calorie surplus – that is, eating ample calories and taking in supplemental nutrients to support your energy needs throughout the day . Fol-low a high-calorie nutrition program, and you should have enough energy stamina to blast through any workout, regardless of how long or intense it is. You’ll also have enough recuperative power to sustain you from workout to workout, without any com-promise of energy or immune function.4.
Take antioxidantsAntioxidants are nutrients found in foods and supplements that protect the body from the onslaught of disease-causing free radicals. Free radical damage has been implicated in diseases such as cancer and heart disease .Fortunately, free radicals aren’t al-lowed to do their bad deeds without being policed. They’re apprehended by the antioxi-dant nutrients, which include vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and certain minerals and enzymes . These nutrients simply donate an electron to a free radical but without chang-ing into a radical itself. This action “neutral-izes,” or stops the dangerous multiplication of still more free radicals. Supplementing with antioxidant nutri-ents has been found in research to help pro-tect the body against age-related diseases. You get vitamins A and E by eating a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains. Vitamin A, in particular, is found in yellow and or-ange foods, such as yams – a bodybuilding staple. Nutritionists feel that our diets don’t supply all the vitamin E needed for good health.
Thus, supplementation of vitamin E is recommended .By following the Parrillo Nutrition Program™ and supplementing with the Parrillo Essential Vitamin Formula™ and the Parrillo Mineral-Electrolyte Formula™ you supply your body with the antioxidant vitamins and minerals it needs for good health .5. Try arginineArginine is considered a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body can syn-thesize it from proteins and other nutrients . Despite the fact that arginine is labeled non-essential, it has a number of important functions in the body, including the fortifica-tion of the immune system. In studies with animals and humans, arginine has been found to improve wound healing and bolster immune responses, plus reduce the incidence of infection following surgery.6,7Arginine has other duties, as well. It is required to manufacture creatine, an impor-tant chemical in the muscles that provides the energy for contractions. In addition, Arginine apparently helps prevent the body from breaking down protein in muscles and organs to repair itself when injured. Meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of arginine, as are numerous supplements, including our Enhanced GH Formula™ and our Ultimate Amino Formula™. 6. Get in the zinc syncZinc has far-reaching roles in the body.
For example, it helps absorb vitamins; break down carbohydrates; and regulate the growth and development of reproductive organs . Zinc is also an important immune-boosting mineral, involved in making su-peroxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme that inactivates certain free radicals. Zinc, however, can be depleted by pro-longed, high-intensity exercise if you’re poorly nourished. Because zinc is required for the activity of several enzymes involved in energy metabolism, reductions in zinc concentrations in muscle may lead to muscle fatigue .8 The best sources of zinc are lean proteins, whole grains, and mineral supple-ments. Zinc is one of the minerals found in our Mineral-Electrolyte Formula™.7. Manage athletic stressHard-training bodybuilders and ath-letes can succumb to the immune-weaken-ing effects of stress just like anyone else. Here are some ways to pre-vent this9:• Vary your train-ing routine to avoid mo-notony.• Space your compe-titions appro-priately so as to not place undue bur-den on your recovery and immune re-sponses.• Practice stress reduction strategies such as relaxation if you’re continually stressed out over competition.• Get adequate rest and recovery.• Reduce environmental stress by limiting the time you train in heat, cold, humidity, or polluted air.• Practice good hygiene to limit the transmission of contagious illnesses.• Get regular medical check-ups if you have recurrent infections.
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2.Venkatraman, J.T., et al. 2000. Dietary fats and immune status in athletes: clinical implications . Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 32: S389-S395.Immuno-Nutrition
3.Nieman, D.C. 1999. Nutrition, exer-cise, and immune system function. Clinics in Sports Medicine 18: 537-548 .
4 .Bounous, G ., et al . Whey proteins in cancer prevention. Cancer Letter 57: 91-94 .
5.MacKinnon, L.T. 2000. Special fea-ture for the Olympics: effects of exercise on the immune system: overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes. Im-munology and Cell Biology 78: 502-509 .
6.Barbul, A., et al. 1990. Arginine enhances wound healing and lymphocyte immune responses in humans . Surgery 108: 331-336 .
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8.Cordova, A. 1995. Behaviour of zinc in physical exercise: a special references to immunity and fatigue. Neuroscience and Biobehavorial Reviews 19: 439-445
9.Gleeson, M. 2000. The scientific basis of practical strategies to maintain the immunocompetence in elite athletes. Exer-cise Immunology Review 6: 75-101