Saturday, December 6, 2008
Boosting Winter Immunity
Fight Cold Weather Ailments with Nutritional Support
Colder weather and more time spent indoors make staying healthy a real challenge this time of year.
Millions of people face getting sidelined or made miserable by the common cold. Taking steps for prevention could make life a lot more pleasant in the wintertime.
Typical Eating Patterns Let Down The Immune System
Building your body’s immune system to help prevention is a good place to start. The typical North American eating pattern is high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, unhealthy fats, and lacking in fruits and vegetables. Now this unhealthy eating pattern has spread around the world. These eating habits fail to supply the body with adequate nutrition to truly support immunity. Numerous studies have found that vitamins and minerals improve immune function. In addition, restricting unhealthy dietary fat is critical for building resistance because these fats diminish your body’s natural defenses against infection.
Our book The Fat Resistance Diet has the nutritional science that explains healthy and unhealthy fats, and the practical information needed to overhaul your eating habits.
Give Your Immune System A Boost with Nutrition
The specific nutrients with the most profound effects on immune function are the omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are found in flax seed and in fish, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium and iron. Delicious examples of foods that contain healthy fats are walnuts, salmon and extra-virgin olive oil. These nutrients are deficient in the typical American eating style. We designed The Fat Resistance Diet to supply excellent food sources of these immune boosting nutrients. These include vibrant green, red and orange vegetables, delicious nuts and seeds, fresh seafood, whole eggs, and poultry. Fresh herbs such as basil and vegetables like garlic and scallions add robust flavor to the recipes and also add their own infection-fighting properties.
In addition to following an immune-building lifestyle like The Fat Resistance Diet, these are areas of importance to help build immunity:
Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and for strong immune function as well. If you live in the northern United States or Canada or use sun block regularly, your vitamin D levels may start to decline in late October, weakening immune function in winter.
Scientists have known for years that major and minor life stresses interfere with immune function and contribute to disease. Stressful life events increase your susceptibility to several types of infections, including the common cold. Meditation or prayer, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, and immune-boosting nutrients can keep you from becoming a victim of stress.
Regular aerobic exercise, about 30 minutes a day, has been shown to improve immune function and decrease the incidence of common viral infections. Most Americans decrease their physical activity as the weather turns cold. Increase your activity by following the exercise guidelines in Chapter 7 of The Fat Resistance Diet, not only for weight control but also for supporting your immune system.
Your sleep is an active time during which your body restores itself. Sleep deprivation of experimental animals increases susceptibility to viral and bacterial infection, and, in humans, insomnia reduces activity of natural killer cells, your main defense against viral infection. The natural sleep requirement of adults varies from as little as six to as much as ten hours per day, with most people needing seven to nine hours, preferably without interruption.