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Boost your immune system this winter with the right foods

Winter is the most promising season for skating, sliding, skiing and colds! Many of you drift from colds to flu’ and sinusitis, but do you know that you can boost your natural defenses against infection with the foods you eat? Here are three simple steps you can take right away.

Make sure you eat vitamin C-rich foods

Indeed, vitamin C stimulates immune cell (T lymphocyte) production, and these cells attack pathogens. When taken as a supplement though, vitamin C does not provide the same benefits as food sources. So, for snacks or desserts, go for citrus fruits, strawberries, or kiwis, and then add bell peppers, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts to your meals.

Get enough vitamin D

During the winter months, we seriously lack this much talked about “sunshine vitamin”, which influences the immune system through its antibacterial activity, among others. The recommended dietary intake, adjusted in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine, is 600 IU a day for persons aged 1 to 70 years and 800 IU a day for those aged 70 years and up. In fact, vitamin D is the only vitamin recommended by the Canada Food Guide for daily use in supplemental form. Otherwise, make sure you eat enough vitamin D-rich foods, like grilled or poached salmon (600-920 IU / 100 g), canned salmon (320-760 IU / 100 g), red tuna or marinated herring (280 IU / 100 g), grilled trout (200-280 IU / 100 g), milk (120 IU / 250 mL) or soy beverages (80 IU / 250 mL).

Fill up on probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria, an adequate consumption of which benefits your intestinal flora. Since your intestinal flora is the first line of defense of your immune system, it has to be strong and healthy. Probiotics in amounts generating a therapeutic effect are found mainly in capsule form: Bio-K®, Probalac® or Lactibiane®. You can also get your fill of good bacteria by eating fermented milk products, like yogurt and kefir, or even unpasteurized sauerkraut, all of which would be a plus for your diet!

Wishing you good health!

By Marilyne Petitclerc, P.Dt., Nutritionist



L. Kamen, D. and Tangpricha, V. (2010). Vitamin D and molecular actions on the immune system : modulation of innate and immunity. Journal of molecular medicine, 88 (5), p. 441-450.

Marilyne Petitclerc

Holder of a degree in nutrition from Université Laval, Marilyne has worked as a nutritionist for Nautilus Plus since 2010. Passionate about healthy eating and sports nutrition, she also gives lectures and hosts cooking workshops. With her clients, Marilyne makes extensive use of the instinct diet approach and the Mediterranean diet model. Furthermore, she has attended classes on live nutrition at the Hippocrates Health Institute. Maryline ran the Quebec City Marathon des Deux Rives - Half Marathon in 2010 and 2012. She also took part in the Staircase Challenge, another event held in Quebec City in June 2012. Marilyne also plays in an Ultimate Frisbee league and trains regularly at the Nautilus Plus branch where she is employed.

Boost your immune system this winter with the right foods is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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