Tips for Tokyo-bound athletes before getting COVID-19 vaccine

There are some athletes who are not yet sure whether they should take the vaccine. Here’s why they should get the jab.

Vaccines for Olympic-bound athletes are a welcome move. If players test positive at this time, it would seriously jeopardise their chances of participating in the Olympics, as infected players must adhere to the quarantine requirements and take medications.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Kiren Rijiju, India’s Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, has said that the country’s Olympics-bound athletes will be vaccinated on a priority basis. I welcome this move as it will ensure that the athletes guard themselves from the coronavirus. If players test positive at this time, it would seriously jeopardise their chances of participating in the Olympics, as infected players must adhere to the quarantine requirements and take medications.

There are some athletes who are not yet sure whether they should take the vaccine. Here’s why they should get the jab.

Imagine you have a house, and to protect that house, you create a security system — placing security guards and fencing outside the house — so that no unwanted element can infiltrate.

Similarly, there is a security perimeter inside the human body that consists of barriers, fences and security guards that stops intruding viruses and bacteria from entering the body. This system is known as the immune system. The coronavirus acts like a goonda who secretly wants to enter your house by camouflaging your immune system so that he can steal and harm you. Now, how do you know that your immune system is strong and alert enough to recognise this camouflage? How are you going to test it? How can you check the efficiency of your immune system?

You can do a trial run. You ask some of your security guards to dress up as the goonda and try breaking into the house, just to check the response of the security system.

This is exactly how vaccination works: It is a virus in disguise, which helps the immune system to practise and understand how to combat the original virus.

Things to keep in mind before getting vaccinated

1) Stop training two days before you go to get vaccinated, so that the inflammation levels in the body are low.

2) Diet tips: Have lemon water with glutamine. In order to get the required carbohydrates, eat poha/upma, oats or dosa. For protein, eat sambhar, boiled eggs or yogurt. Eat fruits and cucumber slices to meet your fibre requirements. Have beetroot juice as a midmorning snack. Lunch can consist of salad, khichdi, brown rice, rajma/dal and cooked vegetables. Mango pudding or sweet potato cutlet can form your evening snack. For dinner, eat pasta/rice/khichdi, akki roti and cooked vegetables like capsicum and cabbage. At bedtime, have turmeric tea with walnuts.

We have created a detailed document on dietary dos and don’ts pre- and post-vaccination that is available for all to freely download at institutenutrition.com/covid-documents.

Things to keep in mind after vaccination

1) Rest for three days after the vaccination. Avoid doing any high heart-rate activity. Take your meditation and do other relaxation techniques.

2) Diet tips: Have parfaits, smoothies, sandwiches or omelettes for breakfast. Eat a fruit along with roasted pumpkin seeds as a midmorning snack. For lunch, have noodles/roti, cooked vegetables, salad and dal/curry, accompanying it with a glass of buttermilk. For an evening snack, prepare a smoothie/milkshake and include some dry fruits as well. For dinner, have a vegetable soup before the main meal. In the main meal, include pasta, roti/brown rice, vegetable curry/rajma and cooked vegetables.

Ensure you drink 3-4 litres of water a day. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.

Side effects of vaccination

One might encounter certain side effects after taking the vaccine as the immune system prepares the body to act in a certain way. Common side effects include pain, redness, headache, fatigue, fever and muscle pain. Please consult your doctor if you encounter any such issue.

Supplements

Certain supplements can be consumed during the vaccination process, like omega-3 supplements post breakfast and dinner, or one 1,000-mg Vitamin C tablet with water. Consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine the right dosage for yourself.

There are few other supplements that I have shared in the document that athletes can consume in consultation with their doctor or nutritionist.

As a nutrition coach, I have got myself vaccinated. Millions of healthcare workers have done it to protect themselves. Sportspersons too should get vaccinated and get back to training.

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