Great immune Boosting Foods for the Winter Months!
Winter is not only about keeping warm, but its also a time where we spend more time inside where the close proximity to other people makes the likelihood of cold, flu and SARS-CoV2 viruses thriving.
Our response to the natural presence of these viruses depends on a healthy immune system to counteract the attack by these invaders. In the winter, we tend to be less active, have less sunlight, eat more comfort food and some people have lower mood! The immune system is an incredibly complex and intelligent system comprising of an army of cells and weapons which defend us from attack from external threats to ensure our survival.
This army needs ‘love’ to operate as a well-oiled machine, not only to fend off attack but also to ensure quick recovery from any infection and limit long lasting effects so we can go about our daily lives sooner. This love comes in the form of good lifestyle and dietary habits which will help boost your immune system and give it the nutrients and energy it needs to preform at its best.
Having enough sleep and rest is crucial for boosting your immune system. When you sleep your body has a process that occurs which can be thought of as ‘cellular housekeeping’ or doing the maintenance required for prime performance. Managing stress is also vital as the stress hormones can suppress your immune system, a job they are supposed to do short term! Physical activity is also vital for strengthening your immune system and keeping your metabolic hormones balanced.
All the above lifestyle factors are crucial, but here we will focus on important parts of the diet. Food is more than just energy, the components in food (vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals) send numerous signals to your body to tell it what to do and to switch on and off cellular processes, including your army of immune cells.
Many studies have shown that low levels of vitamin C, D, and zinc increase susceptibility to infections, but these are not the only nutrients. Eating a healthy diet can provide you with many of these immune boosting nutrients, but you may benefit from supplemental forms if you are deficient. At Cellf GP and Wellness we can determine by blood tests if you have an increased requirement for certain nutrients that impact your immune system.
Eating a balanced, healthy diet will not only provide you with numerous vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, Bs, folate C, D, E, Zinc, selenium, iron, and copper but also some powerhouse foods when it comes to the immune system such as garlic, spices, ginger, and herbs.
The focus should be on avoidance of processed foods which typically contain high levels of unhealthy fats, simple /refined sugars, and often high salt; these do not send healthy signals to your immune system or your gut bacteria.
Instead, you should consume nutrient dense foods that have enough protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and gut healthy foods. Around 75% of your immune system is located in your gut as the interface or barrier between the outside and inside – makes sense! The bacteria that live in your intestinal tract have a marked impact on your immune health, so a healthy, balanced diet will not only support your immune army, but will also support gut health.
A gut-healthy diet includes plenty of fibre-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and limits refined sugars, processed foods, and high amounts of red meat.
So, what foods should I be eating?
- Eat the rainbow! Red and orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, capsicums, pumpkin, apricots, tomatoes and berries. These foods are high in vitamin C and plant chemicals called carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and can produce vitamin A which are vital for immune health and supports healthy skin – the first defence barrier against infection!
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit are high in vitamin C.
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes contain vitamin E to fight oxidative stress (internal rusting) and fibre to feed your gut bacteria.
- Iron and protein rich foods including meat, fish, beans, nuts, and cereals.
- Poultry, fish, meats, eggs, avocados, bananas, and mushrooms contain vitamins B12 and B6 which are essential for immune cell growth.
- Whole grains, meat, seeds, nuts, and oysters contain zinc which promotes wound healing.
- Green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables contain folate and chemicals that assist with growth of new immune cells and detoxification.
- Whole grain bread, shellfish, rice, quinoa, and dried fruit contain copper, an important immune cell booster.
- Oily fish, eggs and dairy products contain vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fats.
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir and other fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria to support a healthy gut.
- Garlic, onions, asparagus, leeks, nori, bananas, oats, legumes, flax seeds, and other foods that feed your gut bacteria are known as prebiotics and this helps with overall immune system health.
About Cellf Solutions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cellf GP and Wellness Clinic offers integrated health care through a team of exceptional staff including our Functional GP, in house Nurse, Nutritional Biochemist and Naturopath. Servicing areas of Mosman Park, Nedlands, Cottesloe, Claremont & Perth, Cellf specialises in Cell Regeneration, Cell Therapy, Nutritional & Lifestyle guidance, Herbal medicine, IV Nutrition and medical grade supplementation.
Cellf is a new and innovative company based around delivering the latest technology in complementary medicine for rejuvenation of cell damage.