Do you end up with colds or coughs or even flu at this time of year? Does it then linger around? You’re not really ill but you never quite get over it until the warmer weather arrives?
It’s that time of year when the days are shorter, colder and there always seem to be lots of colds and coughs around. You think you’re well and strong and suddenly a virus strikes. All the good intentions of early nights, good quality sleep and keeping fit seem far away during the party season.
With the lack of sunlight and vitamin D its time to really make sure we take care and find ways to boost our immunity. Summer is long gone so unless you are holiday bound to a warmer climate relying on vitamin D from the sunshine isn’t going to work and immunity is a much bigger picture than just vitamin D.
Food isn’t going to solve all our problems but it can certainly help us fight off the winter bugs more quickly and give us that extra edge to resist them. We eat food every day and its there to be enjoyed so it’s sensible to make sure those extra nutrients are included to help us along our way. Once you know what to include its pretty simple.
So what nutrients should we include to support the immune system and fight off those colds and coughs? Everyone immediately thinks of vitamin C and then vitamin D. Both of these are certainly useful but what is not so often talked about is zinc and we should not forget it!
Pumpkin seeds, prawns, walnuts, almonds, beef and chicken.
Our white blood cells are our army acting against invaders. Zinc codes the genes that control how those white blood cells interact with the pathogens; the bacteria and viruses. So stock up on these zinc rich foods.
Broccoli, peppers, kiwi, oranges and strawberries
Of course don’t ignore vitamins C and D. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and so what is not used is excreted by the body and not stored for future use. The white blood cells use the vitamin C to help destroy the pathogens. Make sure you eat vitamin C rich foods such as broccoli, peppers, kiwi, oranges and strawberries.
Oily fish, eggs and full fat dairy
Vitamin D on the other hand is fat soluble so can be stored and if you have spent time in the sun you may have a supply, but it soon runs out so make sure you eat oily fish, eggs and full fat dairy to top up your supply.
Shiitake mushrooms and goji berries
There is one other compound not be forgotten. This isn’t a vitamin or mineral but a compound known as polysaccharides. This is found in some foods like shiitake mushrooms and goji berries. Polysaccharides support the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells our army of the immune system.
Get these foods in your everyday meals to give yourself that extra edge. Throw some pumpkin seeds on your porridge or have them as a snack. Eat a kiwi or some broccoli and smoked mackerel pate, at the weekend cook a breakfast of eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes and make sure you get enough oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.