It is now the time of year where the days grow shorter and colder. This makes it really important to boost immunity and minimise the risk of coming down with sickness.
Here are 5 nutrients to boost immunity and how you can make sure they are sufficiently in your diet!
Vitamin C has many roles in immunity! It increases the production of immune cells and acts as a major antioxidant. This means it prevents cell damage from infection and promotes recovery.
Collagen is built from vitamin C, which is important for maintaining our skin and mucous membranes which act as barriers to pathogens.
This is a water soluble vitamin, meaning our body cannot store it. Therefore it is important to eat sources throughout the day to maintain an adequate level.
With every meal/snack try to have a handful of red pepper, citrus fruit, kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, cauliflower or broccoli.
Selenium promotes antioxidant activity and helps to lower inflammation.
Inflammation is a vital process in fighting infections, but sometimes the body takes a while to reduce inflammation during infection, causing fatigue and lasting symptoms.
Everyday, try to have a source of selenium, this includes 5 brazil nuts, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds or a chicken breast.
Glutamine is an important amino acid which immune cells use for energy. When immune cells are fighting a bug off they need more energy to prevent or recover from infection.
Glutamine is also a building block for an enzyme called glutathione. Glutathione is a vital antioxidant in the body which prevents cell damage and aids the process of detoxification in the liver.
As it is an amino acid, the primary sources in the diet include poultry, beef, as well as raw spinach and cabbage.
Vitamin A is paramount in maintaining the first line of defence in the immune system. being a fat soluble vitamin, it maintains the mucous membrane which covers the inside of our mouth, nose, respiratory tract and digestive tract (these are a few examples).
This layer gathers bugs and prevents them from multiplying and causing an infection in our body. Vitamin A also helps to increase secretory IgA (sIgA) within the mucous membranes. sIgA is a broad antibody which fights against many pathogens, preventing infection.
When it comes to vitamin A in the diet, think of orange and dark green vegetables. Eat at least 2 portions of carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, broccoli and spinach everyday.
This mineral helps to activate enzymes which breakdown pathogens so they can be excreted. High immune activity depletes zinc, therefore it is really important to get sufficient zinc through the diet.
Zinc also aids taste and smell, so it is important to eat plenty of zinc if you are struggling with taste and smell post infection.
Poultry, beef, nuts, seeds and whole grains are all high in zinc. Oysters however are the richest in zinc!
* Herbal teas like mullein, echinacea and elderberry are really good when you are ill with a cold or flu. They help with hydration as well as clearing congestion. I always keep some at home just incase!
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