Many swimmers ask what they should be eating on the day of a meet or the night before in order to swim fast. By then, it's too late. Eating healthy for optimum performance doesn't begin the day of the meet or the night before. It's a healthy lifestyle, an everyday training commitment.


The Immune System © USOPC SPORT NUTRITION TEAM The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect the body. When foreign objects are identified by the immune system, white blood cells (leukocytes) are signaled to secrete antibodies that protect the body against infectious disease. The immune system also plays an important role in the inflammatory response resulting from injury to tissue. When injury occurs, cytokines are released to trigger several inflammatory mechanisms involved in the recovery and healing process. When the immune system is compromised or is less active than normal, there is a higher vulnerability for infective illnesses. This is called immunosuppression.

Signs and Symptoms of Immunosuppression

  • Reoccurring or prolonged common infections, including upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, and gastrointestinal distress due to infection

  • Abnormal routine blood panels (white blood cells and other immune system blood markers)

  • Inability to recover between training sessions

  • Fatigue

When Are Athletes at Risk?

  • Exposure to frequent or extended travel

  • During a period of high training volume and intensity without adequate recovery time

  • Under extreme environmental stress (i.e. climate, altitude)

  • Heightened exposure to pathogens (airborne or blood-borne transmission, contaminated food or fluids)

  • Insufficient blood cell counts (i.e. low platelet counts, anemia)

  • Insufficient intake of food or fluid Inadequate sleep and poor recovery

  • Anxiety or alterations in mood

Immune Boosting Foods

Meal and Snack Ideas

  • Add spinach and chopped garlic to scrambled eggs

  • Top Greek yogurt with orange slices, strawberries, kiwis

  • Swap out one cup of coffee with one cup of green tea

  • Top a favorite salad with beets or citrus fruit

  • Add sliced lemon to a water bottle and sip throughout the day

  • Sprinkle fresh or powdered ginger on a rice dish

  • Add dark greens or beets to a recovery smoothie

Immune Boosting Protocol for Travel