During the season change, as at this time, many of us begin to prepare for any seasonal influences. However, it would be much wiser to prevent rather than cure!
In this article, we will therefore see which supplements and practices to adopt at the arrival of autumn to reduce the risk of influences and to strengthen our immune system.
The immune system
Our immune system is our mode of defence against "malicious intruders" from the outside world. The immune system is able to differentiate between body cells and foreign antigens. This includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, foreign tissues and toxins.
White blood cells recognize antigens and try to eliminate them. When we interact with our environment, the immune system becomes increasingly good at recognizing these antigens and keeping us healthy.
The immune system has two parts:
- The innate immune system: also called non-specific immune system, uses cells called natural killer cells and phagocytes to combat antigens that enter the body.
- The adaptive or specific immune system: creates special proteins called antibodies, which are able to attack intruders they recognize. Once you have antibodies against a particular virus or bacteria, that particular virus cannot make you sick again. This immunity can last for years and, in some cases, for a lifetime.
Foods to prefer to strengthen the immune system
A healthy and balanced diet, in general, is important for your immune system. Some specific foods can help you ensure the right amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and healthy fats to keep your inflammation low and support your immune system.
This includes the following:
- coloured fruits and vegetables, high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals;
- healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocado and salmon;
- fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir;
- foods rich in fibre, including whole grains and legumes;
- herbs and spices such as turmeric, black pepper, garlic and ginger;
- nuts and seeds, in particular, flax nuts;
- dark chocolate;
- green tea.
In addition, there are supplements that we can take to boost the immune system and cope with very common deficiencies.
Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, which can be a bit problematic during the winter when the days are shorter and it’s too cold to spend much time outdoors. Taking a vitamin D supplement has many health benefits, such as healthy bones and better resistance against certain diseases. It can also help you fight what often manifests as "winter sadness" syndrome.
There are not many foods that contain vitamin D: fish, dairy products and mushrooms do it, but in such small amounts that it can be difficult to meet your daily needs simply by eating these foods. The recommended amount required has changed over the years, to evaluate a possible supplement just do blood tests to see your level of vitamin D in the blood.
From the way people talk about it, you’d think vitamin C is the magic vitamin. The cliché is that Vitamin C is the panacea of all ills and that it can preserve from colds and flu. Science says vitamin C can’t prevent a cold, but it’s a very valuable ally to reduce its severity. This is because vitamin C strengthens the immune system.
Almost five million people in the United States suffer from an iron deficiency, which can be problematic because it is the mineral that produces haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the protein responsible for transporting oxygen to the tissues, so it’s pretty important. It can also help regulate body temperature, which can definitely come in handy when you’re trying to stay warm this season. So, if you feel fatigued, have cold hands and feet, brittle nails or headaches, talk to your doctor for a proper history and consider whether iron supplementation to the diet is necessary.
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, however, if it occurs, it is necessary to resort to adequate supplementation because, the same, is a vital component for health, in particular, for the health of the skin. The winter climate can make the skin scaly, dry and itchy, but lotions fortified with vitamin E can help the skin to retain water, keeping it soft and elastic. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, redness and wrinkles.
You’ve probably heard of super vitamins. But what about super vitamins? Group B vitamins definitely fall into that super-category while maintaining the health of cells and making you feel full of energy. And yes, we mean vitamins (plural) because there are different types of B vitamins that have different benefits. B-12 helps regulate your nervous system and B-6 helps your body transform food into energy. B-1 and B-2 also convert what you eat into energy, but they also offer neurological benefits and support proper vision. See what we mean by being super? In the colder months, B-12 is more advantageous because it can improve your mood and increase your energy.
Prevention is always the best solution to protect health and well-being.
To use correctly and to the need, and integration finalized to strengthen the immune system, brings remarkable and obvious benefits.