Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system. Strong immunity plays a protective role against seasonal illness such as the common cold, the flu and infections as well as other illnesses such as arthritis; allergies and asthma (sorry for all the alliteration!), all that can all flare up in the cooler months.
Here are some things you can do to ensure optimal immune support.
- Increase your intake of omega 3 rich foods as they assist with long-term immune maintenance. These include oily fish such mackerel, herring, salmon and sardines as well as dark leafy greens, flaxseed and walnuts.
- Be wary of your refined sugar intake. Sugar acts to inhibit immune cell function by impairing the ability of the phagocytes (aka white blood cells; aka systemic vacuum cleaners) to rid of invading bacteria and viruses.
- Increase your intake of zinc rich foods as they moderate immune cell function. These include red meat, eggs, poultry, shellfish and nuts.
- Vitamin C also moderates immune cell function and is potentially the single most important vitamin for immunity! Increase your consumption of vitamin C rich foods including capsicums, red cabbage, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, cauliflower, papaya, rockmelon, broccoli and asparagus.
- Increase your consumption of antiviral and antibacterial spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger. Add to your cooking, grate raw onto salads or add to smoothies/juices.
- Ensure adequate pre- and probiotic rich foods in your diet. Prebiotics act like fertiliser for probiotics, which are like the seeds. They will ensure that your probiotics are working efficiently. Prebiotic examples include oats, dark leafy greens, raw garlic, beans, raw or cooked onion, leek, asparagus, avocado, greenish bananas. Probiotic examples include kimchi, kombucha, kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickles, miso and tempeh.
- Ensure a high fibrous diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables of a variety of colours, nuts/seeds and grains.
- Move often, but not too much. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 3-5 times weekly.
- Catch up on all-important sleep.
- Reduce and control stress.