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How to Prevent Illness by Boosting Your Immune System
Are you constantly suffering from colds and sniffles? Feeling run down and lethargic? Then it could be that your immune system is depressed. Matt has done some research and come up with some ideas on how to to help you.
What is the Immune System?
It is a complicated defence system, made up of biological structures that protect against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. The biological structures, more specifically are made up of many types of proteins, cells, organs and tissues. These all interact in an elaborate and dynamic network. The immune system is considered vitally important because it distinguishes between its own healthy cells and tissues to allow the body to function properly.
It is the proteins mentioned above that provide immunity to certain pathogens. This immunological memory is created from a primary response to a specific pathogen and thus when the same pathogen is encountered again it is over powered. This immunity can also be acquired due to vaccinations, which is the way many children will perceive immunity.
What can go wrong?
However there is potential for disorders of the immune system, these include autoimmune, inflammatory diseases and cancer. These diseases can be caused by the immune system either being over or inactive, and it attacks itself, it can also be caused by genetic disorders. These can lead to diseases, for example AIDS.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Research has been said to show that it works reciprocally with the central nervous system (CNS). These work together to sense danger in various forms and provide the most adequate form of response. In accordance with the CNS, of which a brain is a part, the brain actually is said to act as a regulator, participating in immune response.
There has also been much research in to the ‘crosstalk’ between the immune system and the endocrine system. This basically means that at a molecular level there is much more interaction between cells, that was previously unknown. In terms of what this means for athletes, it means that the immune system can be affected at a very minute level and thus what you eat, exercise and the amount of sleep you get has even more effect than previously thought.
(This has been common knowledge for thousands of years, Plato describes it in the Republic: When considering the training of warriors (or Guardians of the Republic) Plato didn’t want them to train like athletes because;
“It’s a sluggish condition, and makes health precarious. Can’t you see how these athletes spend their lives sleeping and only need to deviate a tiny bit from their prescribed regimen to come down with serious and severe illness?”
Of little use to combat troops who could be asked to fight at a moment’s notice. Interesting that Plato spotted that athletes had depressed immune systems and were vulnerable to illness.
Diet and Sleep are key to being healthy.
Sleep is considered very important for athletes, thus the more sleep an athlete gets the more immune to disease they are, according to research. However it must be stated that if you slept all day every day, not that students would even consider this, it can have the adverse effect. A mix of between six and eight hours a night and a good training regime and diet will all help.
It is very often in the run up to a big event that an athlete can get stressed and thus cause an illness because they cannot sleep or in some instances eat. This is where an immune system boast may be important. Instead of carrying on with daily activities it may be of benefit to wrap up warmer when going outside, maintaining vitamin intake by eating fresh fruit and vegetables and going to bed earlier, in order to get rest, even if you are not sleeping for as long.
There has been research into the taking of vitamins and this is said to help but even with the ‘all in ones’ there are still limitations. By increasing your vitamin C intake and vegetable eating your immune system will improve and allow your normal daily routines to continue.
Overall it is important to maintain immunity and thus allow your body to prepare in the best way for an event. If there are any problems regarding getting ill before an event it is best to consult a doctor.
I hope this has been useful and any comments or feedback are greatly appreciated.
Working with James has been a pleasure and education for all of the fencers and coaches, from beginner fencers and trainee fencers, up to international fencers and coaches with decades of experience. We really appreciate James' desire to challenge assumptions but simultaneously his ability to listen to both fencers and coaches on technical and tactical points. He manages to keep his sessions fresh and innovative without losing sight of our central goals. His sessions are challenging and fun and his attention detail is a tribute to his professionalism. Thank you.
24 Feb 2018
Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Course – Somerset
Venue: Princess Royal Sports Complex, Wellington, Somerset. TA21 8NT
Assessment Day: Sunday 25 March 2018
Cost: £280 including materials and access to online resources. To book send a deposit of £100 here.