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The immune system of an adult or youth athlete is typically less vulnerable to colds, the flu etc., but it can be a two edged sword.

Cells that promote immunity circulate more rapidly as we exercise, especially in runners. These cells are capable of killing both bacteria and viruses that cause many upper respiratory illnesses. This same immune system and cellular activity that fights to protect, can all of suddenly let down it's guard and allow these germ agents, bacteria and viruses to have free reign to roam in our body without any defense. When this happens, we fall prey to the common ailments such as sore throats, colds and the flu.

Think of our immune system this way: As we train, the immune system revs up like a high performance race car, and stays revved up during intense exercise programs. Just like a high performance race car needs high octane fuel, our immune system needs high octane fuel in the form of quality nutrients.

Our immune system, if taken care of properly, will stay on high alert to protect against those dreaded germs, and will not take a breather until our body goes into a rest or recovery cycle.

The Two Edged Sword:

This rest or recovery time is when we become the most vulnerable to infections, such as the cold and flu. WHEN OUR BODY is under stress as we exercise, our immune system responds to protect us.As we rest our body, the immune system also acts accordingly and takes a breather. The only way to fend off germs, bacteria, and viruses during this rest / recovery cycle is to eat well, rest, get plenty of sleep and keep your stress level down to a dull roar.

Here's an example of how our immune system comes under attack.

Hold your breath for as long as you think you can.

Now hold it just a few seconds longer before exhaling to recover..

Immediately afterwards, think about how you felt as you were holding your breath until that last possible moment.

Think about how you felt when you took that first gulp of air to recover from oxygen deprivation.

Well, it's at that exact moment, in between exhaling and taking that first gulp of new air is when our immune system is at its weakest moment, and comes under attack.

An athlete, training hard, is like that person holding their breath until that last possible moment, and the athletes recovery period is similar to that same person recovering from oxygen deprivation.  Without proper nutritional protection, the immune system will not able to kill the bad germs that invades our body when we begin a recovery period

Good nutrition is important every day, not just on those days we train, but on our recovery days too.
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