(Disclaimer, this information is not intended as treatment or cure of any condition. Always consult your GP or health professional if symptoms persist and before adding a new supplement to your diet)
There are many self-proclaimed remedies for preventing the common cold and flu. Some with mild truths and others simply poppycock. Given the current climate, today I am going to share some facts on a few nutrients which are often associated with immunity and how they actually support the immune system to run efficiently.
Vitamin C – Unlike the king of the jungle, the lion, we humans have lost the ability to produce this potent antioxidant. We therefore need to get it from foods or supplements. Vitamin C has some evidence for decreasing the duration of colds however NOT reducing your chances of catching one.
Sources: Fruit particularly citrus, veg and supplements
Vitamin D – Absorbed through our skins fats cells (adipocytes) from the suns UV rays this fat-soluble vitamin plays a role in activating part of the immune system (the T cells). Skin tone impacts how much you can absorb from the sun and during winter this is even harder to do so supplementation may be helpful, particularly for those with darker skin tones. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk to infections.
Sources: Fish, milk, yoghurt, mushrooms, supplements
Zinc – plays a role in supporting a well-functioning immune system by influencing lymphoid cells. Males are more common to be deficient than females.
Sources include meats, shellfish, legumes and seeds.
Selenium – forms selenoproteins which help regulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body. ROS are associated with inflammation and so its suggested selenium helps reduce inflammation.
Sources: Salmon and fatty fish, brazil nuts (be wary only a handful of Brazil nuts provides more than enough selenium, and to much can be toxic)
Probiotics – live bacteria which reside in our guts. We know the gut microbiome plays a significant role in regulation of the immune system however more research is still being done within this space. The key to a healthy microbiome is through the largest variety of plant based foods with support from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut which can provide a source of beneficial bacteria.
Garlic – has been shown to be anti-microbial/ viral
Echinacea – has the potential to reduce the chances of catching a cold (by a minimal 10-20%)
Olive Leaf – Nothing supporting its effectiveness towards infections
Soup – potential to improve symptoms of colds and flu (soups made from broths I.e. bones, not your standard soup sachet)
Sleep – plays a significant role in the body’s ability to repair itself and regulating the immune system
Mindfulness and meditation – could help reduce stress levels, and with high stress levels our immune system does not function as efficiently.