Get a Winter immune system boost
Bring on Winter…
I love this time of year! Coming back from a morning run, my ears and finger tips are still cool and my cheeks are flush from the chill in the air. Crisp autumn mornings are still followed by beautiful sunny days, it is absolute perfection.
However, not everyone feels the same as me. Autumn means that winter is just around the corner and for some; this means the inevitable commencement of the cold and flu season. The great news is you can get an immune system boost by eating some delicious super foods in the cooler months. Before I share these food tips with you, it’s important you understand how your immune system works.
There are three crucial parts of your immune system; your skin, lymph system and white blood cells. Your immune system works by fighting off ‘invaders’ which may be bacteria, a virus or even just foreign objects.
One of the first lines of defence is your skin, the largest organ of your body. Your skin is water proof, and acts as a barrier to bugs. The hair that grows all over your body is also designed to keep you protected from invaders. As winter approaches, we tend to crank up the heating which can be very drying for your skin. Omega 3 fats help to keep your skin moist and can be found in fatty fish, walnuts as well as plant based oils such as canola oil and flaxseed (linseed).
Another major part of the immune system is what we call the lymph system. The lymph system acts like a major filter, removing waste products from our cells. Once again, unsaturated fats can help boost your lymph system’s health. Think nuts, seeds, fish and whole grains; as well as Vitamin D. Our best source of Vitamin D is direct sunlight onto our skin. If we can get 10-30mins per day of direct sunlight to our hands and face (that means make-up and moisturiser free) in winter, which is probably harder than it sounds, we should be getting enough. Otherwise, Vitamin D can be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, mushrooms, egg yolks or fortified dairy foods.
White blood cells
White blood cells are the primary producers of antibodies, which is your body’s way of fighting against specific bugs. To help keep your white cells producing and working against the nasties that may end up inside your system, maximise your vitamin intake, particularly vitamin E and C. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, avocado and other plant based oils. Meanwhile, Vitamin C can be found in nearly all fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, broccoli, leafy greens and sweet potatoes.
If you are wondering how to enjoy these superfoods without overindulging in calories, think of warming vegetable soups, roasted vegetables or a vegetable ratatouille with a grilled piece of salmon or even just a warm roasted vegetable salad with quinoa and chickpeas. Yum!