NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES TO REDUCE RISK OF ILLNESS AND INFECTION IN ATHLETES
It is well established that moderate exercise provides a protective effect on immune function, reducing the risk of illness and infection, while vigorous exercise stresses the body’s immune defense, creating a J-curve model. Illness in active individuals has a high cost on physical training, limiting both time and volume with consequences to performance. Therefore, this presentation will review the effect of exercise on immune function followed by strategies to modulate the inflammatory response to support training adaptions while also reducing the risk of illness and infection. Dietitians may not be able to alter the training and travel schedules of our athletes, but we can implement nutrition, sleep, and behavioral strategies that strengthen their immune defense. These strategies include timing of carbohydrates, consumption of polyphenols, hydration, sleep hygiene, management of psychological load, vaccinations, and minimizing pathogen exposure. The goal of this presentation is to describe each of these strategies in detail and provide practical applications to institute in training and competition environment to minimize risk of illness and infection.
Upon successful completion of this one-hour course, the participant should be able to:
Understand the effect of exercise on immune function.
Identify strategies to modulate the inflammatory response to support training adaptions while also reducing the risk of illness and infection.
Provide practical nutrition applications for carbohydrate timing, consumption of polyphenols, and hydration.
Provide practical behavioral applications including sleep hygiene, management of psychological load, vaccinations, and minimizing pathogen exposure to institute in training and competition environment.
About the Presenter: Laurel Wentz, PhD, RD, CSSD, LDN
Dr. Laurel Wentz is an Assistant Professor in Nutrition at Appalachian State University, a Registered Dietitian, and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Dr. Wentz has international experience working with elite athletes and service members, first as the dietitian for Florida State Athletics, then US Army Special Forces, followed by a move to the United Kingdom where she completed a clinical trial to improve performance and immune function in British military recruits. She has recently coauthored manuscripts on performance and immune health in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Nutrients, Military Medicine, and Journal of Sport and Health Science. Dr. Wentz has a PhD in Nutrition and Food Science from Florida State University, an MS from the University of Florida, and a BS from Pennsylvania State University. Her research focus is sports nutrition to improve health and performance, by examining how nutrition influences metabolism, inflammation, and immune function during exercise.