This time of year is filled with sneezing and sniffling. Unhealthier eating habits during the winter months may increase our chances of catching cold/flu symptoms. Nutrition plays a big role in our immune health, so it is important to keep the well balanced meals coming year round. I am not saying to ditch the sweets/desserts this holiday season but rather to make sure you are getting enough nutrients from food on a daily basis. Below are some of my top favorite nutrients to help fight off the cold and flu.
Protein: Consume a variety of protein sources such as seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and nuts. Our body uses protein as a defense mechanism. Proteins help build and repair tissues as well create hormones and enzymes that support a healthy immune system.
Vitamin A: This is an important vitamin for our immune system as it helps keep our skin and tissues healthy to protect us from infections. Vitamin A is found in a variety of foods including sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, eggs, carrots, red bell peppers and fortified foods, such as cereal.
Vitamin C: No need to pop a daily vitamin C if you are consuming enough vitamin C containing foods. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including red bell pepper, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and fortified foods. Vitamin C supports both the innate and adaptive immune system, and research shows that a deficiency in this nutrient impairs immunity and increases risk of infections.
Vitamin D: During the summer months – we are able to ensure adequate vitamin D from exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, many of us spend less time outdoors during the cold months, so we have to attain vitamin D from foods and/or supplementation. Some good sources include dairy products, oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), mushrooms, tofu, eggs, and fortified foods.
Pre and Probiotics: Ensuring that our guts stay healthy is important for not only our immune health but also our brain health. Build a stronger immune system by adding natural probiotics into your diet, such as yogurts, cheese, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Feel free to reach out for more information. And, as always make sure to check with your dietitan and physician about adding supplements to your daily regimen.