Seven super tips for boosting your immune system
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
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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.