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  • Philipp

nutrition - here is how to boost your immune system using natural spices

Good nutrition is an essential part of an athletes life. It may not be very obvious how big the impact of good nutrition is in sailing but one thing is sure - we need to stay healthy and the key to this is to feed our immune system well. Sailors have many different kinds of mental and physical stress. Of course there is racing itself that effects us but also we need to balance training on the water and in the gym, traveling (especially long distance flights and drives) and we shouldn’t forget about all of the other influences (e.g. organization, boatwork, school/studies, family, friends, partner etc.) during our days.

Since you can get lost very easily in the huge amount of ideas, information and researches about sports nutrition I will try to give you some basic information at hand that I collected over the past years that help me staying fit and healthy.

I have divide this topic into the following aspects, which I think are the most important ones for sailors:

⁃ #1 Stay healthy

⁃ #2 Basic supplements

⁃ #3 Weight gaining

⁃ #4 Weight loss

#1 Stay healthy!

The following ingredients will help you to keep your immune system strong and powerful. Just remember it’s nice to eat it once, but regularity is the key here!

1. Salt / Sodium (German: Natrium)

Let’s start with the most common and easiest to consume. Salt is the main source to get sodium into our bodies. What do we need sodium for? Sodium is the key element that keeps us from getting cramps in the short term! It is even more important and helpful during a racing day than magnesium. Since we lose a lot of sodium while sweating it’s necessary to keep our sodium intake high! Of course it depends if it’s hot or cold outside how much we sweat and I can’t give you an exact amount of how much salt you should eat per day but try to listen to your body and learn how much you need.

Even if it is cold and you’re wearing a thick wetsuit or even a drysuit you sweat and therefore you lose sodium!

Some of you might think „when sailing in salty water I swallow so much water - that should be enough“. No! It’s not.

I suggest to add a little bit of extra salt to your meals to slightly increase the average intake. If you are in a really hot place add some salt to your drinks. (Triathletes and other endurance athletes even use salt caps to keep their sodium level high)

2. Pepper

Fresh ground pepper helps to get all the nutrients working against inflammation in your body. So always take a good amount of fresh pepper with your meal.

3. Ginger

I have to admit ginger is not the most tasty thing to eat and it is not so easy to find a way to eat it but it is definitely worth it - here is why!

1. ginger increases the production of glutathione, the most important water-soluble antioxidant in our body. They support the work of the white blood cells that are keeping us from illness. So it increases the power of our immune system directly!

2. we all know the muscle ache after a long day on the water or a hard workout in the gym. Ginger reduces pain caused by sore muscles after training and gets you ready for the next exercise quicker!

3. it balances and calms the stomach. That helps us as sailors to have the optimum power for nutrition intake. For other sports, mostly endurance sports it is very helpful to guarantee a steady calorie intake.

How to eat ginger? The easiest way is to add it to a potatoe or pumpik soup. It also fits to a lot of asian meals. And once you get used to the taste of ginger you can start eating it fresh e.g. on your bread with a piece of good camembert cheese!

4. Chili

When eating chili you can immediately feel how you become warmer and start sweating. That is because your body distributes a lot of adrenalin and dopamine. Our metabolism gets stimulated and more calories get burned and inflammation is prevented. A high intake of the chili agent capsaicin helps to burn fat. Isn’t that something all athletes want? No unnecessary extra weight to carry around? Let chili be part of your nutrition plan!

5. Cinnamon

There are more than a hundred natural substances in cinnamon that help you to improve your athletics. The two biggest effects cinnamon has is that it balances your glycogen metabolism and it helps to lower your blood sugar level and balances it. After a meal for example it doesn’t drop so quickly and you feel full for longer. A stable blood sugar level improves your concentration, too. Cinnamon also prevents a lot of inflammation illnesses such as Alzheimer, diabetes, arthrosis and rheumatism.

Take a tea-spoon per day, preferably Cylon Cinnamon, and add it to your cereals, smoothie or protein shake.

6. Curcuma

Curcuma contains curcumin, an important ingredient to prevent and fight inflammation in your body. If inflammation starts to get chronical your body is more likely to suffer injuries. So one tea-spoon of curcuma per day supports our regeneration and helps us to prevent injuries.

Another effect of curcumin is that it increases our brain activities and improves the information transmission between the cells by activating a special enzyme. So it helps our concentration.

Curcuma is soluble in oil so you can either take some oil and just add the curcuma to it or, and that’s what I usually do, mix it into your salad sauce, or (curry) meals.

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