Our glorious summer came to a very abrupt end this year – if like me, you thought it would go on forever, it’s been a rude wake up!
Now that the kids are back to school, college or uni, it’s the beginning of the snuffly season when many of us are suffering niggly colds, sore throats and irritating coughs.
Make sure that everyone is getting the right amount of nutrients to support their immune systems and help fight of the viruses and bacteria that are so prevalent at this time of year.
If you are eating a good balanced diet with plenty of variety you should be covered but sometimes you may need a bit of extra help in the form of supplements. Always speak to your GP or another health provider if you are concerned about poor immunity – symptoms may include frequent infections, long recovery times from coughs and colds, consistently low energy levels.
Here a few tips to help everyone through that period and boost immunity for the winter months ahead:
Antioxidant vitamins and minerals can really help so make sure you include in your diet:
Vitamin A has been shown to enhance the immune system when fighting infectious diseases. Good dietary sources include liver, cheese, yoghurt and orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash which all provide betacarotene which our body converts into Vitamin A.
Vitamin C strengthens immune system; makes collagen to keep bones strong and helps convert food into energy.
Try to eat strawberries, broccoli, kiwi fruit, peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes which all contain Vitamin C.
Zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold in humans and possibly shorten its duration. Major dietary sources of zinc include seafood, lamb, beef, cooked dried beans, sea vegetables, nuts, peas, and seeds.
Selenium is an important mineral for enhancing immunity. Good dietary sources of selenium include fish, shellfish, meat, kidneys and liver and brazil nuts.
Low levels of iron can cause anaemia, and symptoms include tiredness and fatigue.
Meat and poultry are good sources of iron which is well absorbed by the body. Pulses, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables – eat with Vitamin C foods (see above) to help get most out of vegetarian source of iron
Lots of research is being carried out into lack of Vitamin D in the diet and immunity. Here in the UK Vitamin D is in very short supply during the winter months and often during the summer as well! We should try to expose our skins to sunshine safely (before 11am and after 3pm) during the summer months and consider taking a supplement during the winter.
Other nutrients to include in the diet:
A new study published earlier this year suggests that instead of suppressing the body’s immune response, fish oil actually enhances the function of B cells – white blood cells that control non-specific and specific immunity.
So try to eat oily fish that are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids: include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna.
Probiotics (or beneficial bacteria)
Probiotics have been shown to enhance the immune system and generally support digestive health. They are particularly useful after taking antibiotics and after infection with a tummy bug.
Dietary sources include bio live yoghurts and a fermented drink called kefir. You can help the growth of beneficial bacteria by include ‘prebiotics’ in the diet: oats, barley, apples, asparagus, the onion family and root vegetables.
If you would like to discuss your diet, contact Pippa Mitchell on 01483 527 945 and she would be happy to help.