Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but your immune system can be delightful with these four tips. During flu and cold season, our immune system needs some extra attention to be ready to fight off viruses and infection during these winter months. A strong immune system is necessary so we can stay healthy and active throughout the holiday season. Optimal nutrition is key to boosting the immune system and providing protection against seasonal illnesses like the flu and the common cold. Improve your immune system by including these four tips for a stronger, healthier you this holiday season.
With daylights savings, shorter days, and the cold weather upon us, our vitamin D status can be negatively affected. There is some research that suggests Vitamin D deficiency and cold and flu season are no coincidence.
During the winter months, vitamin D status tends to decrease, and our immune systems are more susceptible to infections. One meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials discovered that Vitamin D supplementation protected against acute respiratory infections. Vitamin D also seems to diminish the harmful effect of cell stress response and immune reaction, demonstrating its ability to help your body fight infection without too much collateral damage. For more on the sunshine vitamin see this evidence-based article to learn a few things you may not already know. With the days getting shorter and less sun exposure available it may be a good idea to give Vitamin D supplementation a second thought.
Immune health always includes this powerhouse of an antioxidant. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli, as well as several other kinds of fresh produce. Vitamin C enhances the function of neutrophils, that play a significant role in battling off pathogens. Research has revealed that neutrophil activity is enhanced with vitamin C intake of at least 250mg/day. It may be beneficial to prioritize those foods rich in vitamin C. Food sources of vitamin C are always best since they are full of complementary nutrients that are beneficial, which may not be present in supplements. Food sources first and then add in supplementation if needed.
This mineral is also known as the gate keeper to the immune system. Zinc is necessary to sustain a normal immune response. Some of the best dietary sources of zinc are red meat and oysters. Fish, poultry and meat are good sources as well. Plant sources are whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Although it is noteworthy that the presence of phytic acid and tannins reduce zinc absorption in these plant sources. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans may be at risk for zinc deficiency and may need supplementation. One way to increase zinc absorption from plant sources is to soak, sprout, or ferment them before consumption.
Moderate physical activity has shown to powerfully boost the immune system. Moderate physical activity is considered a 30 to 60-minute walk, 3 to 4 days a week. Physical activity helps to increase circulation and utilize oxygen. T-cells (the bacteria and virus attacking cells), increase in aggressiveness and number as much as 50-300% post exercise.This also significantly enahncesand speeds up the lealing process in cancer patients. Too much or too little physical activity can weaken the immune system, so let’s get moving. Try moving more this holiday season. Find something you enjoy, like walking in the woods and enjoying nature or try something new like Pickleball, High Fitness or Refit. At Active SWV we have several FREE programs to warm you up and boost your immune system during these cold winter months.