Immune support for the winter months!

Immune support for the winter months!

Author: Kate Holm, Naturopath & Nutritionist.
Clinic Director at Boob To Food.

 

With the weather cooling down many families start to wonder not if, but WHEN winter illness will strike, and whether there is anything they can do to support the health of their children (and themselves!). Thankfully, one of the most effective ways to support our immunity is through the food that we eat - something that we have the opportunity to do many times a day! And don’t stress. This doesn’t have to be complicated - in fact some of the most powerful foods and practices are so simple they are often overlooked. 

Chicken broth 

Grandma was right. Chicken soup really can help to support immune health through the winter months. Bone broth made from chicken bones is rich in an amino acid called N-Acetyl-Cysteine. This potent antioxidant has many healthful effects in the body, including enhancing the activity of certain immune cells, promoting mucous clearance - particularly from the respiratory system as well as reducing inflammation. Add some therapeutic culinary herbs such as garlic, onion, ginger, thyme and turmeric and you basically have the definition of food as medicine in a bowl.
Check out Le Puree Organic Bone Broth here. 

 

Vitamin D ☀️

This important nutrient plays a crucial role in the functioning of our immune system and health of our mucous membranes. During the winter months our exposure to vitamin D from the sun may be limited, so focusing on incorporating more food sources (and supplements if required) is ideal. Our best food sources include oily fish such as salmon and sardines, pasture raised eggs and mushrooms which have been exposed to sunlight! ☀️

Garlic 🧄

Sometimes thought of as nature’s antibiotic, not only is delicious, but powerful for immune health through the winter months. In fact preliminary clinical research shows that taking one capsule of garlic daily for 12 weeks during the winter months reduces the number of colds by approximately 63% when compared with placebo. While this exact dosage may not be entirely replicable through food, fresh garlic has been found to have many anti-bacterial and anti-viral compounds so is still a wonderful (and flavoursome!) inclusion.

Manuka Honey 🍯

For children over 12 months of age this can be a wonderful remedy for immune support. Unlike regular honey, manuka honey contains a unique compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) which contributes to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Already have a scratchy throat or tickly cough? A teaspoon of manuka honey off the spoon or in a warming tea can be soothing and anti-inflammatory. Bonus that you won’t have to do much persuading to get your child to take it! 
🚩 We do not recommend honey before 12 months of age. 

Eat the rainbow 🌈

As simple as it sounds, remember that our health is reliant on many nutrients and other compounds for proper functioning, and there isn’t one magic food. By focusing on a varied, nutrient dense whole food diet, incorporating a range of coloured fruits and vegetables as well as quality protein sources you will be ensuring that you and your family are consuming an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed for healthy immune function.

 

Winter is a time when our immune system requires a little bit of extra TLC. By embracing the concept of food as medicine and focusing on a varied, nutrient dense diet, we can support our body's natural defenses and enjoy some delicious food while we are at it!

 

References:

De Flora S, Grassi C, Carati L. Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteine treatment. Eur Respir J. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41. doi: 10.1183/09031936.97.10071535. PMID: 9230243.

Raghu G, Berk M, Campochiaro PA, Jaeschke H, Marenzi G, Richeldi L, Wen FQ, Nicoletti F, Calverley PMA. The Multifaceted Therapeutic Role of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) in Disorders Characterized by Oxidative Stress. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2021;19(8):1202-1224. doi: 10.2174/1570159X19666201230144109. PMID: 33380301; PMCID: PMC8719286.

Martens PJ, Gysemans C, Verstuyf A, Mathieu AC. Vitamin D's Effect on Immune Function. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 28;12(5):1248

Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93. doi: 10.1007/BF02850113. PMID: 11697022.

Johnston M, McBride M, Dahiya D, Owusu-Apenten R, Nigam PS. Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. AIMS Microbiol. 2018 Nov 27;4(4):655-64.

Samarghandian S, Farkhondeh T, Samini F. Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research. Pharmacognosy Res. 2017 Apr-Jun;9(2):121-27.

Mitra S, Paul S, Roy S, Sutradhar H, Bin Emran T, Nainu F, et al. Exploring the Immune-Boosting Functions of Vitamins and Minerals as Nutritional Food Bioactive Compounds: A Comprehensive Review. Molecules. 2022 Jan 16;27(2):555.

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