For many people, winter is a time when they feel a little run down and are susceptible to cold and flu bugs. If you want to boost your immune system and avoid becoming ill this winter, the foods you eat can make a real difference.
Why you may have reduced immunity
There are various factors affecting your immune status, with stress one of the most important. When you have high stress levels, the level of cortisol in your blood also increases. This can lead to poor sleep quality and make you more likely to catch an infection. Another factor is sugar. The sugar in your diet can slow down the action of the white blood cells that fight infections such as cold and flu bugs, making you more vulnerable.
Food poisoning is a less common factor but can damage the lining of the gut and make you less able to combat bugs. Finally, antibiotics can kill the good bugs in your gut in addition to the bacteria they are prescribed to fight.
The importance of a healthy gut
The digestive system needs to be healthy to balance your immune system. In addition to absorbing essential nutrients, it needs to keep harmful substances at bay. Experts recommend including the following in your diet:
– Glutamine is an important nutrient for your gut. It is found in oats, so starting the day with a bowl of porridge gets you off to a great start.
– FOS. These fructooligosaccharides stimulate bacteria in the gut to aid immunity. They are present in foods such as onion, bananas and Jerusalem artichokes. According to Science Daily, fructooligosaccharides can also improve the taste and texture of food.
– Probiotics are well known for keeping the gut healthy and helping with digestion. They are found in natural yoghurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut.
There are many interesting online food recipes to help you incorporate these healthy foods into your diet. Sites such as http://food-tales.com/ will provide lots of new ideas.
Vitamins A, C and D and minerals such as zinc are also vital for your immune system. Vitamin A is found in eggs, oily fish and cheese, whilst vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables. The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, but you can take a supplement.