Winter is here and it is time you tweaked your diet accordingly to boost your immune system and keep cold and flu away. The body does its best to deal with these invaders with a complex process that relies on a number of factors.
In addition to known immune boosters, such as getting enough physical activity and eating a healthy diet, there are only a few supplements on the shelves that may help boost immunity.
According to dieticians, Vitamins A, B12, C, D, zinc and selenium could help to prevent cold and flu in winter.
Public Health England advises people to take daily Vitamin D supplements during autumn and winter, as sunlight hours – the biggest natural source of the vitamin – get reduced in these seasons. While we get plenty of sunshine during winter in India, the high levels of pollutants in the air prevent it from being a very effective source of the vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency can put you at risk of osteoporosis and auto-immune diseases, among other health risks, and it is best to take supplements in case you are deficient.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service said, “Winter brings particular challenges, including more colds and flu, low mood and dry skin. As days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it is also all too easy to reach for comfort foods.”
“Dietary supplements therefore provide a useful top up when you’re struggling to get the necessary variety in your diet,” said Ruxton.
Vitamin A (found in vegetables like sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and meats, fish and eggs) helps in strengthening cells on the outer layer of skin – the body’s first defence against harmful bacteria and viruses, but it also helps cells in the linings of the body’s hollow structures, including the nose, throat, stomach and gut.
Zinc and selenium help the body fight infection, and maintain the body’s defence system, she added. As with most things that help reduce the risk of infection, chronic disease and early death, it’s not one thing that provides the “miracle cure,” it’s a variety of good lifestyle choices that make the difference.