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  • Writer's pictureRachel Turi, RD

Fight of the End-of-Winter Illnesses with Food!

Springtime racing season is almost upon us, but the seemingly endless winter weather is trying to hold us back. The last round of wintertime colds and illness are lurking. But, with peak season right around the corner, we don’t want a preventable illness from keeping you from training or racing at your best!

Did you know that about 75% of your immune system is housed in the gut? This means that keeping our gut healthy can result in a healthier and stronger immune system! By consuming whole foods, especially those with immune strengthening vitamins and minerals, we can decrease our chances of snatching up dreaded illnesses. If you want to help your body fight off any lurking illnesses, and set your body up for successful races, try incorporating these vitamins and minerals into your daily diet!

Vitamin A- Vitamin A is a critical nutrient for the health and integrity of the tissues in the body,

especially the tissues of the eyes, mouth, skin, intestines, and stomach. By consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin A, our body is more productive at protecting these tissues from infections and illnesses. A simple tip for finding Vitamin A- choose red and orange fruits and vegetables (plus a few greens) such as sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, and spinach, among several others!

Vitamin C- the main function of Vitamin C is in boosting the production of antibodies that fight against inflammation and infection. Without this vitamin, our immune system lacks the full ability to destroy viruses, bacteria, and microbes that make us sick. Snack on citrus fruits, strawberries, and tomatoes to get your daily dose of Vitamin C.

Vitamin E- Vitamin E is a powerful nutrient, in that it is our body’s main defense against the free radicals in our blood that damage our tissues, promote inflammation and sickness. Unlike the previous two vitamins, Vitamin E is not found predominantly in fruits and vegetables. Instead, consuming certain sources of healthy fats such as sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, and vegetables oils will provide you with plenty of Vitamin E!

Zinc- A powerful promoter of proper immune system function and healing of wounds, zinc is a very beneficial mineral. Where to find it? Incorporate a variety of plant and animal proteins such as meats, dairy, beans and whole grains to get the immune-boosting benefits of zinc!

Selenium- Much like Vitamin E, selenium is known for its ability to defend against the harmful free radicals roaming around the body. Further, similar to Zinc, selenium is essential in allowing the immune system to function optimally. Brazil nuts have a very high quantity of zinc per serving, along with eggs, beef, tuna, and several other protein sources.

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