Our immune system is responsible for protecting our bodies from infection, viruses, bacteria, and the development of illness and diseases. Good nutrition and adopting a health-promoting lifestyle are the corner stone’s of a strong immune system.
Lifestyle strategies including maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough sleep, moderating alcohol consuming and avoiding smoking may go some way in strengthening immunity.
A diet which is low in saturated fats and refines sugars, provides a reasonable quantity of good quality protein, is made up of natural foods and contains plenty of fruits & vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts is the basis of good nutrition.
Besides this here are some nutrients you should major on this winter to shield yourself from infection. Apart from vital antioxidant activity important to immunity, there is evidence that these nutrients have specific immune boosting properties.
- Beta Carotene – A compound produced by plants which is converted by the body to vitamin A. It helps in strengthening the surface of the skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract in order to provide an effective barrier against microorganisms. It is thought to enhance white blood cell function and increase antibody response. Good sources of include pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, cooked greens, apricots, sweet peppers, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, mango, and squash varieties.
- Vitamin C is thought to enhance white blood cell response and function and has been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial bacterial properties. Vitamin C is present in most fruits and vegetables good sources being parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
- Vitamin E enhances antibody activities has been shown to stimulate the production of natural killer cells which seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Nuts, seeds and there oils e.g. sunflower oil and almond oil along other oils such as wheat germ, corn and soya are all excellent sources of vitamin E. Other good sources include sweet potato, avocado and spinach.
- Zinc is a mineral which has been shown to aid immunity in number of ways including the enhancement of white blood cell production and the inhibition of the common cold virus. Good sources include: meat, liver, seafood (especially oysters), wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and eggs.
- Selenium a mineral believed to strengthen the disease-fighting properties of the white blood cells that destroy invading micro-organisms. Good sources include: Brazil nuts, oats, seafood, liver, wheat germ, bran, tuna, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, and brown rice.
- Specific foods to consider which have immune boosting properties are garlic, plain live yoghurts for its probiotic activities and foods which contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids such as oily fish, walnuts, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds.