What should you eat when sick?

eat when sick infographic

Right now one of the hottest re-occurring topics in Sleekgeek is coping with falling sick and figuring out how to prevent it.

Although you would think that as you create a healthier lifestyle you would get sick less – this isn’t always the case. For example, intense exercise, followed by not getting enough sleep or recovery time, and then eating too little, can all contribute to stress on the body and a weakened immune system.

Furthermore, the gym isn’t exactly the most hygienic place and it’s very easy to spread germs around between wiping down sweaty gym equipment and wiping your own sweat off your face.

Don’t get me wrong though, living a healthy lifestyle will improve your immunity, making you more resilient against illness and speeding up recovery if you do get sick. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t make you invincible, sometimes the body just needs a bit of forced downtime.

Our tip is that if you do get sick, use that downtime to rest up, refine your strategy, and stoke your motivation so that you can come back stronger and better than before once you are fully recovered. It’s easy to eat healthily and stay on track while things are going well and smoothly, but it’s when times are tough that it really counts.

In the meantime, here is a great infographic from Precision Nutrition (and our summary) on proactively boosting your immunity, fighting infection,  and speeding up recovery.

Feeding the immune system:

The immune system needs plenty of nutrients, so if your diet is poor, you’ll get sick more often. However waiting only until you fall sick before deciding to clean up your diet is not a good idea because:

  1. You typically eat less when sick, so get a lower overall micronutrient intake.
  2. Your nutrient absorption ability decreases when sick.
  3. Intestinal damage and permeability is common when sick, leading to even less nutrient absorption.
  4. You may lose nutrients via vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  5. Your body increases its demand and usage of certain nutrients to aid in the inflammatory and immune responses.

This is why at Sleekgeek we always stress the importance of eating nutrient-dense, whole foods on a daily basis. Take a look at how you can include more of our 25 Re-Defined Sleekgeek Superfoods in your diet and consider taking on our 30-Day REBOOT Nutrition Challenge.

Balance your good bacteria:

You have more bacteria in your gut than cells in your body, and these bacteria can be classes as either harmful or helpful. This bacteria are sort of like “tourists” in our guts since they come and go rather than stay permanently. It is up to us to ensure that we are getting a continuous supply of good bacteria.

Why? Because beneficial gut bacteria help us fight off pathogens and build a strong immune system. They also manufacture vitamins like B12, K, B6, B5, B3, folate, and biotin, as well as enhance the absorption of minerals, properly digest food, and metabolize drugs.

We normally refer to these beneficial bacterias as probiotics, and refer to the things that help keep probiotics alive / feed them as prebiotics (typically “complex starches”.

  • You can get probiotics from: Dairy, Fermented Products, Supplements.Z
  • You can get prebiotics from: Vegetables, Complex Carbs, Fruit, Fats, Supplements.

If you are regularly eating enough sources of probiotics and prebiotics you probably don’t need to worry too much about supplementation, although if you find yourself getting sick frequently then supplementation should definitely be considered.

If you are sick already or have recently taken antibiotics then you should definitely look for a high-quality probiotic to supplement in addition to dietary intake.

To stay healthy:

  • Don’t over- or under-exercise, nor over- or under-eat and maintain a healthy bodyweight.
  • Wash your hands, get enough sleep, manage stress.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods and feed your healthy bacteria.

If you’re already feeling sick:

  • Drink lots of fluids while resting and recovering.
  • Eat if hungry, don’t eat if you aren’t hungry.
  • Focus on immune-boosting foods, supplement with pre- and probiotics, and use immune-boosting supplementts.

To speed recovery, consume more:

  • Foods: Garlic, green tea, honey, chicken soup, elder berries.
  • Supplements: Probiotics, prebiotics, Vitamin C, zinc, elderberry extra, gingseng, quercetin, beta-glucan, stevia, selenium.

What to eat when sick by Precision Nutrition

Source: Precision Nutrition.

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