Let’s talk about 3 Secret Nutrients for Resisting Sickness This Winter
It’s funny how quickly things can change.
Earlier this week I woke up with a sore throat and have been battling a week of congestion and fatigue from poor sleep. What makes it worse is that I had been thinking to myself how interesting it was that I had escaped getting sick over the last month, while all my co-workers had been struggling through colds, coughs and flu.
I should have known better than to think that I was somehow above getting sick.
It has been enough to get me thinking about how I can be more pro-active about maintaining my health.
Getting sick is a big deal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that flu “causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays due to flu, at an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.”
Getting sick sucks – and it prevents us from being both productive and profitable.
So what can we do about it?
Apart from getting the flu shot, we can also help beef up our immune systems by eating certain foods and taking vitamins, minerals and supplements. That is where the 3 nutrients that will help Resisting Sickness This Winter come into play.
In a recent newsletter, Dr. Mark Hyman who is Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Centre for Functional Medicine suggests that there are 3 nutrients that can really make a difference in boosting your immune system:
- Zinc: This mineral is essential for a healthy immune system, as it supports immune-boosting gene expression and cellular activity, while also acting as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Because of the role of zinc in immunity, it’s important to get it regularly through your diet and, if needed, supplements. Foods high in zinc include red meat like grass-fed beef or lamb, chickpeas, cashews, almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and eggs, among others. If you feel like you’re coming down with something, try to up your intake of these foods.
- Selenium: Another necessary mineral to fight seasonal sickness, selenium has antiviral and anticancer properties, and also helps to counteract the aging of the immune system that occurs as the rest of the body ages. Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium; just one or two a day can get you the amount you need. Salmon, beef, turkey, and eggs are other great options; and other plant-based sources include sunflower seeds, brown rice, mushrooms, and spinach.
- Vitamin A: Along with its metabolites, vitamin A has a powerful impact on the immune system. It plays a special role in maintaining strong mucosal barriers, for example, those of the eyes, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts, so that they can keep out infection. Vitamin A is also important for the proper functioning of many kinds of immune cells and is necessary for the generation of antibody responses to specific antigens. When it comes to getting vitamin A through food, there are different kinds of compounds to consider:
- You can get vitamin A from animal sources like meat, eggs, fish, and organs like liver that contain preformed vitamin A (retinol or retinyl ester).
- You can also get vitamin A from plant-based sources like vegetables, especially those that are deep green, yellow, or orange. Kale, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes are all tasty examples. These plant-based sources contain provitamin A carotenoids (including beta-carotene).
So give your immune systems a leg up this winter and try integrating these three nutrients that will surely help resisting sickness this winter into your food planning. As Dr. Hyman says, “Food is medicine” so you can proactively improve your health through what you eat.