If every winter without fail you end up in bed with the flu, making best friends with a hot water bottle and a jumbo-size box of tissues, then it may be time to examine your diet to ensure it’s not leaving you vulnerable to nasty bugs.
Immunity is your body’s natural defence against disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Considered to be the holy grail of health, a strong immune system can help fight colds, coughs and chest congestion, as well as protect against more serious diseases and ailments.
Eating plenty of immune-boosting foods, especially during winter, is crucial to building and maintaining a strong immune system. Here are some of my key ingredients.
Although vitamin C is often hailed as the star nutrient for immune functioning (it is very important), equally crucial is zinc.
In Australia, very few of us suffer vitamin C deficiencies and it’s more common to have a low intake of zinc, particularly among women, children, vegetarians and vegans, as this nutrient is most commonly found in and easily absorbed from animal products.
Zinc is predominantly found in lean red meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and in smaller quantities in whole grains, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) and fortified breakfast cereals.
This mineral is incredibly important in the development and functioning of the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. A number of studies have revealed that zinc-deficient people experience increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases.
It’s important to note that how well we absorb zinc depends heavily on the foods with which it’s consumed. The amount of protein you eat is a factor contributing to the efficiency of zinc absorption, as zinc binds to protein.
Adult men should aim for 14mg of zinc daily, while women should aim for 8mg, which can easily be achieved through a balanced diet.