Winter is well and truly here! As the temperature drops and the rain rolls in, with it comes the onslaught of colds, coughs and infections. But you don't need to fall prey to winter ills! With a little planning, you can use nutrition to boost your immunity this winter. Read on to learn about 5 key nutrients to include in your diet for healthy immune system.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most commonly known nutrients for supporting healthy immune function. Vitamin C stimulates the immune response, reduces inflammation, and reduces the duration and severity of winter colds and viruses. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit, kiwifruit, broccoli and kale. The body cannot store vitamin C so make sure you eat vitamin C rich foods daily!
Zinc helps fight off winter ills by stimulating the immune system to create infection fighting antibodies. Ensure you get enough zinc in your diet by eating seafood such as oysters and mussels, chickpeas, wholegrains and pumpkin seeds - all rich sources of zinc.
3. B Vitamins (especially vitamin B6)
Although B vitamins are more commonly associated with supporting healthy energy levels, they also help to support a healthy immune system by regulating the immune response to infection. Foods rich in B vitamins include wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and dark-green leafy vegetables.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in immunity by triggering the body's immune response to fight against infections. In New Zealand, our main source of Vitamin D comes from skin exposure to sunshine. With shorter daylight hours and wet weather a common feature of our New Zealand winters, many of us may not get enough sun exposure to support healthy levels of vitamin D. On top of trying to get 30 minutes of winter sun exposure each day, try to include food sources of vitamin D in your winter diet such as oily fish like salmon or sardines, and vitamin D fortified dairy products such as milk and yoghurt.
Gut health is a hot topic in nutrition of late and for good reason! It has been suggested that up to 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, making gut health an important part of avoiding winter ills and infections! Our gut is home to millions of bacteria which can influence our health and immunity. Research has shown that a gut full of good bacteria (aka probiotics) is able to enhance immunity by improving the body's resistance to infection. Add more good bacteria to your gut by taking a good quality oral probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, or by including fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha in your diet.
Including these nutrients in your winter diet will help to give your immune system the extra boost it needs to keep you healthy throughout the winter season.
Until next time,