Thursday, 2 December 2010

How to boost immunity

Τhis is not exactly a how-to post, despite its title. I mean I really don't know how to avoid those dreadful winter colds. That is my conclusion from the past month. I am currently recovering from the second cold in less than 30 days. 

I am not sure if this is related to the unprecedented bad weather casting its spell over England at the moment, or the fact that I am Mediterranean, definitely not used to this kind of weather for more than 2-3 days a year, if at all, be it here or anywhere else in the world. But if I want to survive through this English winter and be able to train at the same time, I really ought to do something asap to stay healthy for longer periods of time.

This is obviously a vast subject. On which, I repeat, I am clearly not an expert! Fortunately, while attending a Nutrition workshop organised by Oxfordshire Sports Partnership yesterday, I posed the question to certified Sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson of ( and (

Being an active athlete himself, he offered some personal as well as professional advice on what keeps him healthy before a race: "Start taking all the immune supplements ahead of time, combined with a low background anti-inflamattory diet" he said.

Gavin speaks from experience. He is a rower and recently felt sick right before competing for the British Indoor Rowing Championships. He told us that the battle for immunity requires a concerted as well as timely effort. "I now start boosting my immune system about three weeks before an important race. I have decided to be more proactive".

And, perhaps, so should I!

Short video
Gavin even made a video speaking about his recent experience, which you can find on the first page of the Sports Nutrition Vlog. Or you can watch it here:

Gavin's Immunity boosting strategy
1. Increase doses of Vit C and echinacea (4-5 times a day, up to bowel tolerance, then back off by 1000mg).
2. Elevate uptake of Glutamine (10grams three times per day).
3. Increase use of colostrum, the first and extremely nutritional cow's milk. 
4. Incorporate Manuka honey, widely thought to have antibiotic properties, in daily diet. 
5. Chicken broth daily, ideally with tom yum spices. 

On travel 
The above also come high in the recommendations' list of Matt Lovel, Gavin's colleague, who is the nutritionist of England Rugby Team as well as of reknown distance runner Mo Farah. 
Elsewhere in their website ( Matt also recommends the following in case of travel:
- Take glutamine every day that you are away, starting the last week before you leave.
- Take zinc and vitamin C losenges before and during the flight.
- Take some hardcore immune boosters with your 1st aid kit for holiday (by hard core he means an immune vitamin pack or some Chinese herbs).

That reminds me. Have I packed my zinc supplements for our  skiing trip tο Ιtaly tomorrow? I don't think so! See you later!


  1. Thanks Natasha. Good to meet you at the workshop.

    I hope you have a good run in Italy if you managed to get there with all the snow and airport delays in England.

    Best regards


  2. Thanks Gavin, it was an adventure getting there but we did manage in the end and had a fantastic time. Glad to report I also came back healthy and injury-free this time, after following your suggestions! Still freezing though here in Oxford, so I intend to try out your beetroot soup this week. Perfect warming and nutritious food!