Colds, flu, pharyngitis, otitis, bronchitis Hospital waiting rooms are filled these months with patients with these conditions. If you want to strengthen your body to reduce the chances of suffering them, you have to look at your pantry. There are foods (for their nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals) that you cannot miss.
- Master the art of combining. To not miss a single one of the benefits offered by seasonal foods, we encourage you to make “wise” mixes. There are nutrients that, when “twinned,” become absolute protectors of your health.
- Organize and vary. The best way to assure your immune system of all the nutrients it needs is to eat various foods. To do this, organize your supermarket purchases and dishes for each day of the week in advance.
1. Vitamin A
That you catch a cold very quickly may indicate that you lack this vitamin, which also has to do with visual health.
Vitamin A has the vital function of regulating T lymphocytes, production, and activity necessary for immune cells so that neither viruses nor bacteria cause too much damage once they enter our body.
- It fulfils another fundamental task so that you do not get sick: it keeps your airways’ mucous membranes (nose, pharynx ) in good condition. If they are not in good condition, they will not create a sufficient barrier to prevent infectious agents’ entry.
If you catch a cold quickly, you may be lacking vitamin A
- Speaking of the mucosa, we cannot forget the intestinal (vitamin A is also essential in its formation and maintenance). It also acts as a barrier. More and more studies show that when the intestinal mucosa becomes more porous due to an internal alteration, the probability of suffering respiratory infections increases. Some already call it the lung-intestine axis.
- Vitamin A is found in fatty animal products such as eggs, bluefish, and whole dairy products. But there is another way to obtain it, and that is by taking foods that provide provitamin A (it turns into vitamin A in your body). Thus, consume fruits and vegetables that are green (spinach, broccoli, etc.) and yellow-orange (carrot, pumpkin ).
The Ideal Combination
- Eggs. They provide the right amount of vitamin A, D, and group B and zinc and selenium, “reinforcing” minerals.
- Mushroom. It contains antioxidants and other substances that activate immune cells and reduce inflammation.
- Broccoli. Also, to provitamin A, it provides sulforaphane, a substance that strengthens defence cells.
2. Vitamin C
Wounds that take time to heal, sudden mood swings, or dry skin can warn you that you are missing this vitamin, also called ascorbic acid.
Sufficient intake has been shown in several studies to influence T lymphocytes (defence cells) directly. It is even believed that an adequate dose of vitamin C can help decrease the frequency and duration of respiratory tract infections.
Almost all fresh vegetables, greens and fruits contain vitamin C
Also, some studies show that, in case of infection, vitamin C levels drop considerably.
- The body needs vitamin C to make collagen. So when it’s missing, the skin is drier. On the other hand, this nutrient is necessary for wounds to heal well.
- Almost all fresh vegetables, greens, and fruits contain it. So follow the rule of taking 5-8 servings each day.
Try This Complete Combination
- Fresh fruit salad. Make it with 3 or 4 different types of fruit.
- Orange juice. In addition to vitamin C, it contains beta carotene and folic acid.
- Almonds Add 4 or 5 fillets, and you will be adding zinc and vitamin E.
3. B Vitamins
To give you an idea of how important this group of vitamins is to “not get sick,” it is enough to review some play’s role.
- Vitamins B6, B12, and B9 (folic acid) participate in forming DNA and proteins involved in the immune system. And its role is so decisive that recent studies have shown that, for example, vitamin B6 deficiency reduces cellular immunity in healthy older adults. In contrast, if that deficiency is replaced, the defences normalize.
- Whole grains, legumes, fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts, or brewer’s yeast provide B6 and B9. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal origin (meat, fish, shellfish, dairy, or eggs).
The Ideal Combination
- Chickpeas. We must add vitamins B1, B6 and B9, and minerals to the fibre richness.
- Spinach. They are an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin C, and beta carotene.
- Mussels They give you a good dose of vitamin B12, and its iron content is high.
4. Vitamin D
Did you know that its deficiency is directly related to the risk of respiratory infections? Japanese research carried out with a large group of students showed that vitamin D‘s contribution during the months from December to March protected 40% of the participants against the flu.
Remember that moderate sun exposure is essential to achieve the recommended amount of vitamin D.
According to other research published in Nature Immunology, if the levels of this vitamin are low, the immune system’s killer cells (T cells) are not activated, so they cannot mobilize and act against pathogens.
- Sources of vitamin D. Bluefish, eggs, mushrooms, whole dairy, and foods fortified with it. And do not forget that it is essential to expose yourself moderately to the sun to achieve the recommended amount.
- Sardines. Provides quality protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and D.
- Cauliflower. Its contribution to vitamin C and A enhances the protective effect of bluefish.
5. Vitamin E
It is one of the most potent natural antioxidants that exist, and that in itself benefits your immune system because it protects your cells. It is beneficial in older people with low defences.
Taking a sufficient amount of vitamin E has also been seen to help reduce respiratory infections. This vitamin’s main contribution comes from virgin olive oil (and those from unrefined seeds), olives, nuts, wheat germ, avocado, and green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, broccoli, etc.).