Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD
Last Updated on:
Winter is just around the corner and it’s that time of year again to start thinking of ways to ward off sickness and boost immunity. In celebration of the NHP week this week, the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) released an interesting survey they recently conducted on over 1,500 Canadians. The results showed that more than half of Canadians reported getting sick most often in the winter. More interestingly, this survey also showed that 91% of Canadians believe that their level of happiness is impacted by their overall health.
Remember when your parents gently reminded you to finish your veggies or drink more water? Knowingly or not, these good habits can lead to good nutrition; and, this ultimately leads to good health and getting sick less often. In the CHFA survey, the top 3 favorite foods Canadians reported eating to fend off cold and flu are chicken soup, oranges, and tea. As for supplements, 46% of Canadians reported taking Vitamin C and 37% taking Vitamin D to help boost immune during the winter months.
Top 5 Immunity Boosting Food and Supplements
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D has been reported in a study that people taking a daily dose were 3 times less likely to report flu symptoms. And for those who took a high-dose of 2000 IU per day reported no cold or flu symptoms! Sunshine helps our bodies produce Vitamin D but during the Winter months where we are bundled up and do not get enough sun exposure, it really makes sense to take 1000 IU of Vitamin D daily in a supplement form. Remember to speak with a dietitian or medical doctor before starting any supplementation.
Moreover, Vitamin D supplementation in athletes have been shown to limit infections so if you or your kids play Winter sports consider Vitamin D supplementation to help boost your immune.
Reishi mushroom in particular contain lectins and beta-glucan that can increase white blood cell activity. Adding reishi to soups and stir-frys are easy ways to bump up flavour and bolster immunity.
Just like seafood, some nuts may be known for it’s high Omega-3 content but did you know that nuts also contain beneficial levels of selenium and Vitamin E? Both of these nutrients have been found to improving white blood cell count and give a bump to your immune system.
A member of the allium family, garlic has been shown to reduce cold symptoms and improve immune cell activity. Not only will garlic add flavour to your dishes and help to prevent sickness, but they also contain sulfurous compounds that can help maintain and lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol in your body! This is truly an amazing food to add to any diet.
5. Vitamin C
While Vitamin D is recommended to ward off cold and flu symptoms, Vitamin C has been shown to be effective at decreasing cold symptoms after you get sick. In short, Vitamin C can help shorten the duration of a cold and flu so generally, there is no need to take a daily dose. Just keep some around just in case you do feel the on-set of a flu. And remember that high Vitamin C foods include orange, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon!
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.