At this point in the season, you’ve probably made it through at least one cold or flu bug – either you’ve avoided catching one completely (good for you!), or, if you’re like some of us… you’ve caught them all, and are hopefully almost well again!
Whether you want to keep that healthy streak going, or are just looking to stave off yet another bout of sniffling, coughing and feeling terrible, there's a number of important steps you can take, such as:
- Getting enough sleep
- Minimizing stress
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Routinely exercising
- Practicing good hygiene (washing your hands, brushing teeth, etc.)
And the last, arguably most important step?
--> EATING HEALTHY, and getting all the proper vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
Which vitamins are best?
But with the alphabet of vitamins and minerals out there, and in so many different foods, it can be tough to create a diet that will keep your immunities at their strongest throughout cold and flu season.
If only there were some sort of vitamin/mineral list showing you which foods you should aim to eat... Well. Today's your lucky day, beauty. ;)
The best vitamins and minerals for a stronger immune system
Vitamins and minerals are the building blocks of a healthy immune system. Just like Popeye with his spinach, you can supercharge your defences by supplying your body with the core building blocks it needs (AKA vitamins and minerals) to protect you against those pesky bugs and viruses lurking everywhere.
But not all vitamins and minerals are equal, and so, the top vitamins and minerals to help strengthen your immunities are:
- Vitamins A, C, and E – Each of these vitamins has antioxidant properties that help protect you from sickness. Vitamin A helps fight off infections; vitamin C helps reduce the duration of common colds; and vitamin E helps improve immune system functioning.
- Vitamin B6 – Essential for biochemical reactions in the immune system such as the production of red blood cells.
- Vitamin D – Helps to regulate the immune system and boost natural defences against disease.
- Folate/Folic Acid – Helps the body produce and maintain new cells as well as maintaining proper cell functioning.
- Zinc – The gatekeeper of proper immune functioning, this mineral helps control inflammation inside the body.
- Selenium – Helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection.
- Iron – An important component of hemoglobin, the red blood cell substance which carries oxygen throughout the body.
Foods high in immune-boosting vitamins
Now that you have your list of nutrients, it's time to meal-plan around them. Here's a list of delicious foods, rich with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, red bell peppers, steamed spinach, broccoli, almonds
- Vitamin C: Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, strawberries, red bell peppers, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocado
- Vitamin E: Almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, avocado
- Vitamin B6: Chickpeas, bananas, green vegetables, avocado, lean chicken, baked potatoes, cold-water fish like salmon and tuna
- Vitamin D: Yogurt, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines
- Folate/Folic Acid: Papaya, kiwi, whole grains, beans, avocado, leafy greens
- Zinc: Shellfish like crab, lobster, mussels, and clams, baked beans
- Selenium: Garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, barley, brazil nuts
- Iron: Chicken, turkey, seafood, kale, broccoli, baked beans
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to strengthen your immune system
For an added bacteria-fighting boost to your immune system, here are some super-charged ingredients containing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action:
- Green tea
Obtaining vitamins and minerals through supplements
While taking supplements (like Hair Love’s Keratin + Collagen Complex) is an excellent way to increase your body’s natural supply of vitamins and minerals, be sure to also eat the proper fresh foods from the list above!
Stay strong and stay healthy by eating right!
By strengthening your immune system with the proper vitamins and minerals, you are one step closer to maintaining your health and keeping the bugs at bay, whether it's cold and flu season or not.
Eat right, and enjoy the season – the holiday season, that is!
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels