Support your Immune System: Cold & Flu Virus
We are bombarded at the moment with advice about social distancing, self isolation, washing our hands, all extremely important, but nothing much is said about what we can do to support your immune system. At the end of the day this is undoubtedly just as important.
It goes without saying that eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, which are high in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, is the first consideration. It may not be so easy to obtain fresh veg daily at the moment however some frozen veg can be as nutritious and a good standby.
It is important to try and source your fruit and vegetables locally when possible, many farms offer a weekly delivery – I get weekly deliveries from Riverford Farm – perfect if you are based in the South West, UK. It beautifully provides seasonal – organic produce AND a reduction in international transportation that is such a risk at the moment!
Although getting a food delivery slot anywhere is proving difficult at the moment, keep persevering and then set up a regular delivery of fresh veg and fruit.
Eating a rainbow diet with lots of colourful veg and fruit will ensure the intake of a good variety of phytonutrients and therefore support your immune system. See some of the wonderful Wholesome World recipes such as colourful salads to really tick this box. For instance, the Super World Salad completely encompasses this ethos which you can find by downloading the app here.
Important vitamins to consider for our immune system are vitamins C and D. Vitamin C has long been considered an anti flu remedy. Alongside plenty of fresh veg and fruit (8-10 portions a day) you can safely add a 1000mg supplement of vitamin C if you have any flu like symptoms.
Wholesome World has a collection of different links and resources that can help inform you on how to support your health such as PubMed (authorised scientific research access), alongside recommended mental health resources like Headspace and useful Ted Talks.
It is a public health recommendation that we supplement with vitamin D throughout the winter months to help support your immune system. If you haven’t been doing so then it would be a good idea to start supplementing now. Drops or a spray can be the most absorbable. It is the sunshine vitamin and we can only make vitamin D through our skin between April and October so we should now get out in the sun as much as possible (or as much as we are allowed) and expose as much bare skin as possible to allow this to happen. Stay safe though and be careful not to burn your skin though. We only need about 20 minutes in high sun to make a good amount of vitamin D.
Magnesium is another important immune supporting nutrient as it helps to convert vitamin D into a form the body can easily absorb. This mineral is found in green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, meat and fish. Ensure you are adding these to your balanced diet.
Finally zinc is another mineral which is vital for a healthy immune system. It is found mainly in eggs, offal, meat and mushrooms (WW mushrooms on toast are worth a try). If you are vegetarian ensuring a good intake of zinc can be more difficult but beans and lentils contain substantial amounts too. Sprout, soak or ferment your legumes to aid the bioavailability of the zinc in the body.
Of course there are many other nutrients and foods which contribute to the health of our immune system especially numerous herbs and spices (see our ingredient info). Don’t forget also that 70% of your immune cells are in your gut so foods for gut health are of prime consideration. This includes fibrous plant foods, healthy fats from nuts, seeds and oily fish and fermented foods. These all help to keep our vitally important beneficial gut bacteria happy too.
Think about your metabolism too and be aware of the impact of refined, high sugar and starch foods on blood glucose spikes. Disordered metabolism can have a negative impact on your immune system.
Stay healthy and safe!
Nutritional information from Catherine Zabilowitz – Nutritionist
Find her in the Wholesome World App