In the winter, it is normal that we have colder and humid weather and this can, for example, lead to the occurrence of colds and flu.
Studies show that colder temperatures negatively affect the immune system.
Therefore it is very important to ensure the proper functioning of our immune system.
But do you know why it matters and what you can do to keep it healthy?
In this article you will find out the importance of this system and how you can protect it to stay healthy during the winter!
Importance of the immune system
Our immune system is responsible for the protection of our body against diseases and situations that can harm it.
“The immune system, which is made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs, defends people against germs and microorganisms every day.”
In this way, it’s up to you to protect it.
One way to do this is by encouraging the use of some micro and macronutrients and symbiotics (of which probiotics are part).
Food and supplements play a very important role and can be your best ally.
Especially the supplements, which are a more pure and practical way of consuming the recommended doses of macro and micronutrients.
See some of the examples I selected for you!
Supplements helping you to keep your immune system healthy
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin (which is absorbed by our body in the presence of fat).
It can be found in seeds, olive oil and nuts.
This vitamin acts as an antioxidant in our body, giving protection against oxidative stress that can cause damage at the cellular level.
It also strengthens your immune system.
“The mechanisms by which vitamin E might provide this protection include its function as an antioxidant and its roles in anti-inflammatory processes (…) and immune enhancement.”
The supplementation of this vitamin can be made through the consumption of small capsules with doses from 3mg to 15mg.
Vitamin C is present in foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, mango, kiwi, among others.
Like vitamin E, vitamin C has antioxidant power and is also a protector of the immune system.
“Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.”
The recommended daily dose of vitamin C is 100-120 mg for adults and, as in the previous case, can be consumed through supplementation or by food.
B vitamins (namely vitamin B6)
The B vitamins are present in foods like fish, meat, dairy products, eggs and legumes.
Vitamin B6 contributes to a:
- Normal metabolization of macronutrients, namely protein and carbohydrates
- Normal functioning of the immune system
- Reduction of fatigue and tiredness
Vitamin B6 should be consumed at the dose of 1.2 – 1.7 mg, although its deficiencies are very rare.
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. They can be found in fish, seeds or nuts.
Among other functions, they play an important role in strengthening the immune system.
Sometimes our diet lacks the resources of omega-3 fatty acids. In order to consume sufficient amounts to stay healthy, supplements can be a great help.
Although there is no fixed value, the daily dose recommended by the European Food Safety Authority is 250 mg per day.
In the article “Probiotics and immune health” the definition of probiotics is presented as:
“(…) live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts as part of food, confer a (…) benefit on the host.”
Bacteria are often referred as ‘dangerous’ for the body, but that is not always the case. Some of them are fundamental to maintain a healthy functioning of your body
They are known to directly influence your intestinal health.
By restoring good intestinal health, they are directly influencing the proper functioning of the immune system.
They can be found in yogurt, fermented milks, miso (by-product of soy), kombucha or keffir or consumed in the form of supplements.
Selenium and zinc are also micronutrients to be taken in consideration, as they also play a preventive role in the inflammation of the organism.
Selenium is present in greater amounts in Brazil nuts, in grains, seeds, beans, egg yolk, fish and poultry or meat.
Zinc, on the other hand, is more significantly present in oysters, seafood, meat, chicken, whole grains and nuts.
In addition, as in previous cases, these minerals can be found in supplements – alone or in combination, for example in multivitamins.
Attention! The recommended doses are adapted to adulthood and may vary. Ask a health professional to help you!
How to stay healthy during the winter: conclusion
Therefore, in order to avoid compromising your well-being due to malfunctions of the immune system, it is important that you apply some preventive measures.
These measures can include the consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals and the decrease in consumption of processed foods that could harm the body.
Other general recommendations are non-smoking, light or moderate physical exercise, a healthy body mass index, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night, avoiding stress, and avoiding alcohol.