What complex measures of foods, supplements and herbs to take in order quickly to reinforce my immunity during the cold season?
In winter the natural defense forces of the organism are put to the test, and different viruses stalk from everywhere – that’s why nutrition in these months should, among all other things, promote our immunity.
As familiar and ordinary as it sounds, the main thing is to observe the principle of healthy nutrition. The classical principles are also the basis of modern balanced nutrition – one should eat in moderation, but with many varied foods.
During winter, when the risk of infectious diseases is increased, keeping strict and restrictive diets is not recommended. Healthy weight is the basis of good immunity – overweight, as well as underweight, interferes with the immune functions.
Obese people more often suffer from diseases of the respiratory system and show higher risk of infections in surgeries. A decreased response of both T- and B-lymphocytes is seen in overweight – these are important protective cells of the immune system. The high fat content in food inhibits the functions of other main immune cells – T-cells and natural “killer” cells. It is proven that the capacity of the immune “killer” cells is increased when the intake of fats is reduced from 32% of the energy value of food to 22%, as not only the quantity but also the type of fats is important. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found mainly in sunflower oil, stimulate the production of cytokines – substances that are released from macrophages and other immune cells in response to viral or bacterial infection.
Although cytokines are important for the normal function of the immune system, they play a major damaging role in the inflammatory processes, where they are produced in excessive amounts. Fish oils however are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which inhibit the release of cytokines and reduce their inflammatory action.
A deficiency of certain vitamins is also present during the autumn-winter months.
Vitamin D, which is fighting against the lack of calcium, comes from fish, eggs and dairy products and is synthesized from the skin under the action of sunlight. The reduction of solar radiation often leads to deficiency of this vitamin.
Vitamin A is responsible for strengthening of the body’s natural defense and increases the resistance to respiratory infections. This vitamin is found in many products: carrots, green vegetable, exotic fruits.
The famous vitamin C has an active antimicrobial effect and stimulates the white blood cells in the synthesis of antibodies; in addition it promotes the formation of interferon – a substance that prevents the development of viruses. It is found in many fruits – kiwi, citruses, as well as in garlic and leek onion.
Vitamins B1 and B2 are precious in the fight against autumn-winter fatigue, develop the memory functions and help the body in processing and using iron. Vitamin B1, which is water-soluble, does not accumulate in the body: that’s why it is necessary to be taken with the food every day. It is found both in animal products and cereals.
Vitamin B2 is essential for the energy balance because of its metabolic role in the biochemistry of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, participating in their transformation into energy. Moreover, vitamin B12 is a growth factor and it clears and energizes the outlook of skin and hair.
Here is a kind of list of seasonal foods that are available on our market with unexpected health benefits precisely at this time of the year:
1.Beetroot is a real vitamin bomb and fights almost all diseases. It may be found on the market throughout the year, but it is extremely important to be consumed during the cold months.
There are only 44 calories in 100 g beetroot. It contains averagely 88% water, 1.2% protein, 9.3% carbohydrates, 0.9% mineral salts (potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sulfur, iodine), small amounts of vitamin C, carotene, vitamins B1, B2 and B12. Due to the presence of potassium salts, sulfur, phosphorus and magnesium it speeds up the processes of metabolism in the organism. Because of the chlorophyll it contains, it is an irrevocable ingredient in the diet of those suffering from anemia. Paradoxical is the fact that despite the presence of sugars, red beetroot is healthy for consumption even from diabetics. It helps the assimilation of nutrients and speeds up the elimination of toxins.
2. Pumpkin and its seeds – the orange heroine of the famous story of Elin Pelin contains a large amount of pectin which helps in the cleaning of the large intestine and the lowering of cholesterol level. Pumpkins are very useful for organism’s restoration after suffering from serious diseases. Due to its low caloric value (about 17 calories in 100 g), it is recommended to people with overweight and diabetes, and the latter still have to restrict its use due to the presence of sugars. They may consume 500 g boiled pumpkin daily or 300 g baked one.
Pumpkin seeds are also extremely healthy. It is even believed that the people living on the Balkan Peninsula rarely suffer from prostate adenoma precisely because of the fact that they eat pumpkin seeds. There are proteins, essential fats and resinous substances in the seeds. The World Health Organization recommends the use of these seeds as a natural way to supply with zinc.
This microelement, which is important for the work of the brain, is concentrated mainly in the endosperm of the seed directly below the shell. That’s why it is recommended they to be bought unpeeled. Whole baked pumpkin seeds, without the shell, contain about 10 mg zinc/ 100 g, and the peeled ones contain about 7-8 mg/ 100 g.
3. Chestnuts stimulate the brain. Usually, they can be found only in autumn and winter, so a man should not miss this chance. There is a lot of protein in chestnuts and first of all fatty acids which help the normal functioning of the brain and the cardiovascular system.
Moreover, some studies show that the increased consumption of these substances improves the mental process and normalizes the whole nervous system.
4. Rosehip – is not only an absolute champion in vitamin C content (from 400 to 2000 mg per 100 g dried fruits), but is also a source of vitamin P or the so called C-complex. These are different substances – rutin, bioflavonoids, hesperidin and citrine, which protect the sensitive to air vitamin C.
As it is known, we intake far less amount of the important vitamin than we suppose, because the process of oxidation destroys it. Together with vitamin P however, it becomes stable and is maintained for long. Again in combination, they strengthen the capillaries, increase the defense forces of the organism and prevent from easy bruising.
5. Garlic – a natural antibiotic that deserve special attention. Despite the bad breath, this healing plant contains allicin and thiosulfate which are the most powerful ingredients that help in protecting the organism from infections and the fight with them.
6. Black elder – the extract from the fruits of elderberry acts positively on the whole organism in the winter days, supporting the immune and haematopoietic system. It acts very well in colds, rhinitis, tonsillitis, cough, also in neuralgias and affects positively the urinary system.
The richness of anthocyanins, pectin and cellulose determines the strong antioxidant effect of black elder and its role in the extraction of heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the organism. The miraculous black fruits in fresh form in autumn or dried in winter are one of the best natural remedies to treat anemia.
7. Persimmon combines in itself the beneficial properties of vegetables with the concentrated sweetness of fruits. Besides vitamin C and fibers, it contains a lot of potassium and magnesium, which are healthy for the heart, carotene – for the eyes, and lycopene, which is considered as the strongest natural fighter against cancer.
It can be eaten without anything else, but also to be used as a spice in a lettuce salad and as a puree to meat ragout. The milkshakes with persimmon are the most interesting – besides being delicious, they are also healthy.
It is good to know that the organism can fully absorb the contained in the persimmon carotenes only with the help of milk.