How to Support Your Immune System Before the End of Winter

Want to fight off the second round of winter cold and flu that is spreading around the office or your child’s school?

Aside from practicing good hand hygiene and getting plenty of rest, supporting your immune system is going to keep you feeling strong, healthy and free from colds!

To acquire the right vitamins and nutrients to support your immune system through the final weeks of winter check out the table below!

Nutrient Food Sources How it Helps
Vitamin C Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, red and green capsicums, brussels sprouts, strawberries, papaya, mango, cauliflower, broccoli, lemons Decreases the length and severity of cold symptoms; antioxidant; builds and maintains mucous membranes and collagen
Vitamin E Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, spinach, broccoli Powerful antioxidant effects when combined with Vitamin C; T cell enhancer (a subtype of white blood cells that play a central role in immune response by scanning for infections)
Vitamin A carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, rockmelon, squash, liver, apricots, mint, spinach Antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system; helps keep mucous membranes healthy and intact
Zinc oysters, crab, lean meats, poultry, baked beans, yogurt, chickpeas, eggs Essential for normal development and function of immune cells; helps to control the body’s inflammatory response

 

Medicinal Foods that

Support the Immune System

How it Helps

Mushrooms: Shiitake

Activates immune cells; immunosuppressive effects

Manuka Honey

Effective in reducing cough frequency and severity; aids in loosening mucus

Licorice Root

Anticough, provides soothing, protective film over throat

Ginger

Anti inflammatory specifically in the lungs

Thyme

Relieves symptoms of cough and mucus congestion; Anti inflammatory; anticough; aids in loosening mucus

Garlic

Rich in antioxidants; antimicrobial and antiviral properties

 

And of course, chicken soup! Keep it the chicken soup basic or add in as many of the vegetables and medicinal foods from the list and have a SuperFood Soup! Evidence suggests chicken soup may help to clear a stuffy nose, break up mucus and reduces the severity of the inflammatory response.

 

We all know that our immune system does a remarkable job of defending us against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails; a germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Here is a brief summary of how the common cold attacks your immune system. After a virus, like the cold, invades your body and enters a health host cell, it replicates the host cell and then goes on to infect other healthy cells. This activates the immune system and the response is as follows: a) immune fighter cells are recruited to the site of infection, b) immune fighter cells release a number of substances that initiate and maintain inflammation, c) inflammation causes characteristic flu symptoms: redness, soreness, and swelling in the back of the throat, fever, headache, fatigue, mucus secretion and coughing, while the immune system is fighting the virus and d) as the concentration of virus increases in the body, symptoms intensify until the immune fighter cells fight off all the virus cells. When this battle is over and the healthy immune cells outnumber the nasty virus cells, you start to feel better!

 

Supporting and boosting the immune system with nutrients and vitamins from the table above can decrease the amount of inflammation and the length of time that inflammation occurs. Getting you back on your feet and feeling better sooner!

 

As always use caution and/or consult your healthcare professional if taking any of the vitamins and minerals from supplements.