If your family is anything like mine, you have already had your fair share of bugs making its way through the family. With cold and flu season here, I often get asked what foods boost our immune systems. Short answer none. There is no one food that will boost your immune system to prevent the common cold and flu but their are some foods that function to support our immune systems.
With the holiday season upon us and more of us socializing, we are going to see more respiratory illnesses, its unavoidable. You see viruses also help build up our defences for future infections. It’s stressful to see little ones sick. I wish there were a few foods that could prevent the flu and or cold but despite what “Dr. Google” says there is no food that is going to cure or prevent you and your family from getting sick this cold and flu season.
While there is no specific food to boost your immunity there are things that we can do to help keep ourselves and our kiddos healthy this cold and flu season:
Good hand hygiene:
We have all heard it over and over again for the past two years but good hand hygiene pays off, especially during the cold and flu season.
Daily exercise and enjoy the outdoors:
Getting daily exercise is always good for the body. Bundle up and enjoy winter activities. Let’s face it physical activity while exploring mother nature always feels good.
Healthy sleep routine:
Now this one I definitely need to work on, while I always keep my kids on a healthy sleep schedule, mine is lacking. Evidence shows that good sleep is essential to both short and long term overall health. When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies are more prone to stress and may make us more susceptible to viruses such as the common cold.
Eating a well balanced diet:
An easy rule of thumb that I like to follow is to fill half your plate ( 1/3 for the little ones) with as much colour as possible in our diet, think of a rainbow. Some of our favorite colourful fruits and vegetables include:
Apples, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, berries, bell peppers, greens (lettuce, spinach,), broccoli, snap peas, and sweet potatoes.
Eat adequate protein:
Protein is essential to our health and plays a key role in our overall wellbeing. Every cell in our body requires protein. Protein helps to build and repair cells. Protein helps to form immunoglobins and antibodies that protect and fight foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. Protein is found in a variety of foods such as meat, meat alternatives, nuts and seeds, dairy and dairy alternatives, vegetables and grains such as quinoa. Most people easily meet their protein needs.
How about supplements:
Before taking any supplement always suggest you talk to your family health care provider. While a multivitamin does not replace a well balanced diet but it gives one piece of mind. We do take a daily multivitamin as reassurance, lets face it no one eats perfectly, even this dietitian.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin , it helps to keep bones and teeth strong. Vitamin D also regulates many bodily functions and evidence suggests it may play a neuroprotective role in the immune system. Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure. If you live in Canada, sun exposure is scarce throughout the fall and winter months. While there are some foods such as milk and milk alternatives, fish, egg yolks, soy, and margarine it is still likely you are not meeting your vitamin D requirements.
Age Dietary recommended intakes (DRI) for Vitamin D/day
0-6 months 400 IU
7-12 months 400 IU
children 1-3 600 IU
children 4-8 600 IU
children & adults( 9-70 years) 600 IU
Adults > 70 years 800 IU
Pregnancy & lactation 600 IU
Remember even if we practice good hand hygiene, exercise daily, get adequate sleep and eat healthy, it is likely we will get sniffles, it’s inevitable. By practicing all these good measures hopefully the sniffles will be short lived and you get a few days to binge watch some of your favorite shows.
Wishing you a healthy cold and flu season!
Sources: Health Canada: www.canada.ca