A few more nutritional-tips to help boost your immune system

Whether there is a virus, cold or flu going around, it is always important to boost your immune system and keep it strong.  Oftentimes, people get ill when seasons change.  This often happens because of sudden drops and spikes in temperature, or being in a cold environment (for example aircon), then going outside into the heat, or being indoors where it is warm, then going outside where it is cold.

Vitamin C

Our good friend vitamin C, is a good helper when it comes to helping the body to defend itself from being infected. One of the benefits of including vitamin C in your diet is strengthening your body’s natural defence. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin; therefore you need to take it every day (preferably on an empty stomach before breakfast).  A buffered vitamin C-powder is a good alternative to the tablets, should you have a sensitive stomach. Alternatively, one large roasted red pepper (preferably organic) and 125ml glass of orange juice (fresh oranges contain a higher vitamin C-dose than juice in a carton) will give you the same amount.

Vitamin A

‘The membranes in our nose and throat are our front-line defence against bacteria and viruses, and vitamin A keeps them healthy,’ says dietitian Nichola Whitehead. You can get the amount you need daily from one large orange sweet potato (excellent baked), or a large handful of spinach thrown into a salad.  Organic veggies are a good option, as their nutritional value is much higher.

Iron

If you’re deficient in iron, your immune system works less efficiently. ‘Premenopausal women need 14,8mg a day of iron,’ says Nichola Whitehead. ‘You can get it by eating 60g of liver.’ Not a fan of liver? Try beef, tofu, clams, mussels or dried apricots. 

Zinc

Zinc is essential for wound healing, blood clotting and thyroid function, and it will also alleviate cold symptoms. We need 7mg a day. Dark turkey meat is a great source (100g gives 5mg), or try a 150g steak. Or take in pill form if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat a lot of red meat.  Just beware not to overdose, as this could lead to liver damage.   

Protein

Without protein your immune system can’t function effectively. According to dietician and nutritionist Susie Burrell, eggs are one of the highest protein-containing foods, with more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals. In general, most women can get all the protein they need by adding a serving of two eggs, 100g cooked chickpeas or 100g meat, fish or poultry to each their meals.

Probiotics

These are live bacteria which help keep your gut healthy. A daily serving of miso soup, natural yoghurt or fermented foods like sauerkraut is all you need. If you can’t manage that, a probiotic supplement is a good idea for boosting your immune system.

A good old cup of tea

We all need a chemical called interferon as it helps us combat viruses. It’s found naturally in our bodies, but the amino acid L-theanine prompts our immune system to make more of the stuff – and guess where you find it? In a good old cup of tea! And it doesn’t have to be special tea: A study showed that everyday tea had the desired effect.

At the end of the day, remember that our bodies can function at an optimum level 24/7.  Stress, eating junk- and processed food, drinking sodas, smoking, and not getting any exercise, will be detrimental to our bodies.  Not just will it be visible on our skin and face, but internally those organs that were made to protect the body against foreign bodies, will stop working 100%. 

So, wherever you are, take a deep breath, open the windows and/or doors to let some fresh air in, make yourself a nice cup of tea, and relax! 

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