The days are getting darker, the weather is getting colder and the flu is going round more. You know the drill – winter is coming and our immune systems are in need of a bit of extra support! Luckily, this article is here to help cover all the essentials you need to keep you going this winter.
Why is it important to support our immune system? Our immune system helps us fight off infection, essentially keeping us well and healthy. Around 70% of our immune system is situated in our gut and our digestive function can play an important role in our immune function. We can sometimes start to experience gut symptoms as the first sign of illness for this very reason.
When exposed to illness, disease, or something the body may deem as harmful (allergies/intolerances, for example), our immune system gears up and starts releasing certain chemicals and cells to help fight off the problem. We can limit our exposure to these things but there’s still a high chance of catching a cold or flu when the weather drops. What we can do though, is help support the immune systems response by giving it some immune-loving nutrients.
5 Top Nutrients To Support The Immune System
1. Omega-3 (oily fish, seeds, nuts)
Omega-3 is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps reduce inflammation in the body. Although inflammation is the natural response by the immune system when exposed to infection, if elevated and prolonged, inflammation can have a knock-on effect on the rest of our body and affect our sleep, mood and stress levels.
2. Vitamin C (peppers, citrus fruit, kiwis, kale)
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, supporting the reduction of oxidative stress caused by inflammation. It also supports barrier function and the maintenance of cell structure. Vitamin C is well known to support the immune system and can be easily increased in the diet by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.
3. Vitamin D (eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, sunlight)
Not only do the winter months come with more illness, they also come with less sunlight and shorter days which unfortunately leads to less Vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D possesses antimicrobial properties that may help support the immune system. A supplement may be advised during the winter months, but speak to a healthcare professional for more information.
4. Pre- and Probiotics (sauerkraut, garlic, onions, kimchi)
Our gut is host to billions of microbes that play an important role in immune function. In order to work efficiently and support our bodies, they require certain nutrients known as pre and probiotics. Prebiotics help to feed the bacteria and probiotics help to repopulate the bacteria, each being fed to support an element of the immune response.
5. Zinc (oysters, chicken, hemp seeds)
Zinc is the second most abundant metal in our body and plays an important role in supporting the acute immune response. Zinc is found in varied food sources but may need to be included in differing ways in those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as levels are often lower in plant-based food sources.
So there you have it! Just some of the essentials you need to help stay on top of your health this winter. Of course there are lifestyle elements that come into play too and other nutrients necessary for our wellbeing, but these are a great place to start!
If you’re looking to learn more about immune support and want a helpful, supportive guide to help you with all things nutrition, get in touch! Why not book a free 30-minute call with me and see how you can support your immune system for a happier, healthier winter.
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