Want to boost your immunity this winter? Although we use the term “winter” loosely here in sunny Florida, it’s still important to take care of our immune system this season - especially this year!
The lack of vitamin D from sunlight combined with holiday stress and overindulgence can easily leave you feeling run down. This can impact your immune system, making it harder for your body’s natural defenses to work against cold, flu, or other intruders.
The good news is that much of what your body needs to optimize your immune system can be found with nutritional support and healthy habits.
Zinc - Zinc is a vital nutrient for immune system function. Good food sources of zinc include egg yolks, turkey, lean red meat, oysters, almonds, and cashews.
Natural Antibacterial/Antiviral Foods - Add garlic, turmeric, onions, and ginger to your grocery list this winter. These foods and spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties, making them a great addition to support immune health through the winter season.
Hydration - Stay hydrated for immune health. You can also incorporate herbal teas, lemon water, bone broth, or fresh ginger for an extra boost.
Probiotics - Did you know that 70% of your immune system is based in your gut? Different probiotic strains do different things, so if you’re looking for probiotics that have been scientifically found to be “effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections” then these three are your go to’s: Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus paracasei.
Antioxidants - Keep things colorful with dark green and orange colored foods. Antioxidant-rich options include spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, mango, butternut squash, watercress, and broccoli.
Cysteine - This amino acid plays a key role in the immune system. This is one of the reasons chicken soup is such a great go to when you have a cold or flu. Chicken releases cystine when it is cooked, plus the collagen in bone broth also boosts immunity as well as reduces inflammation. In addition to a nice warm bowl of chicken soup with bone broth, enjoy eggs, onions, garlic, and nuts for more cysteine.
Vitamin E - This beneficial nutrient helps keep the immune system strong against bacteria and viruses, while also playing an important role in the formation of red blood cells. In addition to stimulating the production of immune cells, vitamin E also provides powerful antioxidants protection. Get your daily dose by eating avocado, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, almonds, and hazelnuts.
Alcohol - Sorry, this is one to cut back on not increase. Drinking excess alcohol deprives your body of valuable immune boosting nutrients, as they are used by your liver for detoxification instead. That said, you can still enjoy in moderation, just don’t overdue it. Also be sure to stay hydrated while partaking, and get in lots of good nutrients before and after.
Vitamin C - Broccoli, asparagus, oranges, kiwi, peppers, and strawberries are all delicious ways to get your daily dose of vitamin C. You may also want to consider a high quality supplement, be sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist if you have specific goals or concerns.
Vitamin D - Given the research on vitamin d deficiency and increased mortality rates for covid-19, this is an extra important one to promote immune health. Even when it comes to the regular cold and flu, Vitamin D is known as one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients to decrease risk. Sunlight and food are the best options, but high quality supplements can provide the extra boost you need, especially through the cooler months.
Do you know what else is good for immune system health? EXERCISE! It has been found that physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may decrease chance of getting a cold or flu. Additionally, physical activity can improve circulation as well as cause changes in our antibodies and white blood cells.
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