We are now coming up to the season of colds and flus etc, and In this blog entry I am going to give you some precautions you can follow if you feel a cold coming on.
Certain vitamins and minerals exhibit important immune-modulating functions by entering cells and regulating gene expression. Minerals prevent the oxidation of lipids in the cell membrane, which can reduce oxidative stress affecting immune cells. I am going to list all the various vitamins and minerals you should include in your diet to stay healthy!
Firstly let’s go over the mother of all vitamins…..Vitamin C!
o I think most of us fall into the trap of taking supplements without having a reason for taking a particular supplement. Before you buy a supplement think about the benefits vs the disadvantages first.
o According to lots of evidence Vitamin C supplements do not reduce your chance of getting the flu, they may however, SLIGHTLY reduce the duration if you do get the flu.
o Most Vitamin C supplements contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and this isn’t very good for your gut microbes.
o Fruit and vegetables are loaded with Vitamin C including red peppers, kiwi’s, berries, oranges, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and lemons. I would load up on these foods if you feel you have a cold coming on!
Other important vitamins to include in the diet
1. Glutamine – helps against oxidative stress. Sources: include bone broth, grass-fed beef, spirulina, and cabbage.
2. Arginine – Enhances certain cell responses within the body. Sources: eggs, grass fed beef, liver, wild-caught fish, pumpkin seeds, kefir, brazil nuts.
3. PUFAs (fish oils) – anti-inflammatory
4. Vitamins A, C and E – help against oxidative stress. Sources Vitamin A: Butternut squash, sweet potato, beef liver, egg yolks, butter, and kale. Sources Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, wheat germ oil, and pine nuts.
5. Selenium and Zinc – help to stimulate a cell response within the immune system. Brazil nuts are a excellent source of selenium. Zinc rich sources: include meat, oysters, pumpkin seeds, legumes. Vegetarians and vegans are at high risk of Zinc deficiency.
6. Vitamin D – Deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and an increased susceptibility to infection.
7. Probiotics and fermented food – 70 % of your immune system is in your gut!
GALT – Gut Associated lymphoid tissue
The GALT is the largest immune organ in the body, and is the primary route by which we are exposed to antigens. It is the first line of defence, and it can neutralise viruses and remove antigens before they cross the mucosal barrier and reach circulation. Low levels of totally sIgA (secretory) in the GIT is associated with altered intestinal permeability. lactobacillus Ghamnosus gg strain has been shown to up regulate secretary IgA, as well as saccharomyces boulardii.
SigA levels drop when someone is UNDER STRESS, which is an important body-mind connection. Remember: No supplement will help relief stress!
o GALT plays an important role in the immune response, and this can be modified via dietary changes including prebiotics and beneficial bacteria – probiotics.
o Prebiotic foods – include raw dandelion greens, leeks, garlic, onions, jicama, under-ripe bananas, asparagus, oats which contain Beta Glucans, and these are also essential for the immune system.
o Probiotics – I would also suggest getting some regular fermented food into your diet, to help support/build beneficial bacteria in the gut.
The new advice from the PHE (Public Health England) is that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of Vitamin D, particularly during the autumn and winter, as we do not have as much exposure to the sun. People who have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are being advised to take a supplement all year round.
Remember: Always check your levels before supplementing!
SACN’s (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) review concluded that these at-risk groups include people whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those in care homes, or people who cover their skin when they are outside. People with dark skin, from African, African-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer. They should consider taking a supplement all year round as well.
The months from October till the end of March the sun isn’t strong enough in the UK to produce enough Vitamin D, which means we shouldn’t just rely on getting it just from the food we eat!
In a change to previous advice, SACN is now recommending an RNI for vitamin D of 10 µg/d (400 IU/d), throughout the year, for everyone in the general UK population aged 4y and above.
o children aged under 4y, Safe Intakes are being recommended for this age group (8.5-10 µg/340-400 IU per day for all infants aged under 1y and 10 µg/400 IU per day for ages 1 up to 4y).
This RNI has been developed to ensure that the majority of the UK population has satisfactory Vitamin D status throughout the year.
Recommended supplements that have evidence of benefit in immunity
1. Fish oils – I recommend using Wileys Fish oil, and it’s very reasonably priced!
2. Echinacea – You can purchase echinacea in any health store, I would go for a liquid form.
3. Probiotics – Due to heavy marketing of probiotics it can be a challenge to choose the right one! However professionals are now saying only take a probiotic if you a specific reason for example you’ve just had some antibiotics, upset stomach, etc. Also take into consideration actions and qualities of probiotics are strain specific!Different probiotic strains have different actions! Well researched brands included Alflorex, VSL 3, Symprove, and Bimuno.
The components in foods that improve immune functions and the mechanisms by which foods help to stimulate immune-modulating effects are still far from fully understood. To confirm the scientific basis of the immune-modulating activities of foods, there is a need to keep on researching newly obtained scientific data on foods.
I hope you found this article useful, and please share if you liked the content!