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The pandemic has reminded us that we’re nothing without our health. Staying healthy is an active discipline. It takes conscious effort and continuous education. For athletes, immunity can seem secondary to technique, performance, endurance, or even nutrition. But this is not the case!
Immunity is the foundation of performance and recovery. It’s critical to care for your body by giving it the best fuel and nutrients, and it’s just as critical to let your body rest. In fact, rest and recovery are so important that you should include them in your training regimen.
The physical demands of regular, prolonged, high-intensity training and competition are associated with changes in the immune system. These compromises can make athletes more prone to illness than people who aren’t training. When we push our bodies hard or too hard, vitamin deficiencies can lead to weakened immune responses and increased susceptibility to pathogens. And if you’re sick or hurt, you can’t perform.
Honey Stinger’s Rapid Hydration Mixes are designed to be used in three ways: Prepare, Perform, and Recover. Recover flavors Berry Defense and Tangerine Defense were intentionally created to help athletes stay in the game by boosting immunity. They provide zinc, elderberry, and vitamins C and D—nutrients that play a central role in the immune system and are beneficial any time of day.
Zinc is necessary for immune cell function and cell signaling. It stimulates immune cells and reduces oxidative stress (when there’s too many free radicals in the body, potentially leading to cell and tissue breakdown). Studies show elderberry can have antiviral properties and increase inflammatory cytokine production (activating the immune system and reducing inflammation).
Vitamin C supports multiple cellular functions of the body’s adaptive immune system. It’s an antioxidant that fights free radicals (decreasing inflammation and enhancing immunity). Vitamin D is a nutrient we consume and a hormone the body makes. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus (which are critical for building bone). Vitamin D can keep the immune system balanced, help control infections, and reduce inflammation.
While zinc, elderberry, and Vitamins C and D directly assist with immunity, minerals incorporated into the recover mixes assist with the hydration process. The mixes contain a 1:3 sodium to potassium ratio, and both minerals are important for performance and recovery. Sodium can help regulate muscle contraction, nerve function, and blood volume. Potassium works with sodium to balance fluid and electrolyte levels. Steady fluid levels stabilize heartbeat and prevent muscle cramping.
Because of its ability to maximize absorption, honey plays a significant role in helping these vitamins and minerals actually reach your cells to do their important work. Honey’s natural, unrefined sugars are easily absorbed by the body, so the hydration process and immunity benefits kick in right away.
Knowing what to consume and when is part of the athletic experience and a competitive advantage. Having the right information can make your commitment to reaching health and fitness goals more fun and accessible. It’s okay to be disciplined, and it’s okay to shake things up!
For something cold, try a recovery smoothie using a Berry Defense stick pack plus milk, blueberries, strawberries, vanilla protein powder, and honey to taste. If you’re looking for something hot or less filling, add a Tangerine Defense stick pack to a cup of citrus flavored tea.
This content is provided by Jamie Meeks, Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and Sports Dietitian for Professional Athletes.