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Seven super tips for boosting your immune system 

sneezing woman

In winter, we often spend time worrying about catching colds, the ‘flu, and other respiratory infections. We’d all like to avoid them or at least get over them fast and easy. So here are the best tips for building a rock solid immune system.

1. Optimize your zinc intake

Zinc stimulates the production of white blood cells and reduces the ability of viruses to reproduce themselves.

Ideas for optimizing zinc intake:

  • Eat lean red meat once or twice a week;
  • Add wheat germ to your cereals or yogurt;
  • Throw beans and lentils into your soups, chili sauces, and other sauces and dishes;
  • Take zinc supplements in winter.

2. Raise your vitamin D levels

In winter, it’s harder to satisfy our requirements of this particular vitamin, also known as “the sunshine vitamin”. Vitamin D reduces cold and ‘flu symptoms and lowers the risk of respiratory infections.

Ideas for raising your vitamin D levels:

  • From October to April take a 1000UI supplement of vitamin D each day;
  • Eat a portion of fatty fish once or twice a week;
  • Eat or drink two to three portions of vitamin D-enriched dairy products each day;
  • Choose eggs for breakfast.

 3. Invest in vitamin C

Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells. These latter help fight infection and promote the secretion of antibodies that attack viruses and bacteria.

Ideas for investing in vitamin C:

  • Enjoy sweet red pepper salads;
  • Serve yourself a freshly pressed orange or grapefruit at breakfast.

4. Don’t forget probiotics

Our intestinal flora provides a fertile biological terrain for both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria help create a barrier against pathogens that are likely to trigger infection.

Ideas for probiotic sources:

  • Eat probiotic cheese and yogurt (Activia, DanActive, Yoptimal, etc.)
  • Take probiotic supplements (Align, Bio-K+, Probaclac, etc.)

5. Try ginseng

Ginseng promotes the growth of immune cells that help destroy bad bacteria and viruses.

Where to find ginseng:

  • ginseng can be found in health food stores in dried root form as well as in vials and capsules.

6. Hydrate yourself

You absolutely must drink enough fluids to prevent the nasal and intestinal mucus from drying. Mucus forms a barrier against microbes.

7. Continue to exercise

Regular physical activity stimulates the production of white blood cells (immune system cells) and thus reduces the risk of contracting a respiratory infection.

And of course, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly!

How about you, what do you do to stay strong and healthy?

Karine Séguin, nutritionist

References:
Passeport Santé. (2011). Ginseng. On line < http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Solutions/PlantesSupplements/Fiche.aspx?doc=ginseng_ps>. Page consulted December 10, 2014.
Plaisir Santé. (2014). 9 trucs pour renforcer votre immunité. On line <http://www.plaisirssante.ca/ma-sante/rhume-et-grippe/9-trucs-pour-renforcer-votre-immunite?slide=8>. Page consulted December 10, 2014.
Saine alimentation Ontario. (2014). Le point sur le système immunitaire. On line <https://www.eatrightontario.ca/fr/Articles/Foire-aux-questions/Le-point-sur-le-systeme-immunitaire.aspx>. Page consulted December 10, 2014.
Société canadienne du cancer. (2014). Vitamine D. On line <http://www.cancer.ca/fr-ca/prevention-and-screening/live-well/vitamin-d/?region=qc>. Page consulted December 10, 2014.

 

 

Author
Karine Séguin, Dt.P.

Holder of a degree in nutrition from McGill University, and member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec, Karine is currently pursuing a specialist diploma in sports nutrition with the International Olympic Committee. She has been part of the Nautilus Plus team since March 2012. Karine has demonstrated exemplary dedication in her own physical preparation by regularly training in our centers, and has completed the Montreal half-marathon in 2013. Passionate about her work, her objective is to ensure the success of everyone, and motivate you to adopt healthy eating habits. Whether you are picky about food, or a real food lover, Karine will get you to enjoy the pleasures of eating healthy foods that are suited to your needs, so that you can feel good about yourself, and become active!


Seven super tips for boosting your immune system 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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