We are going through a period when the “fortification” of our immune system is one of the first priorities for all of us.
In your effort to strengthen your body’s defense, your diet and daily habits can prove to be valuable weapons!
• Start your day with a balanced breakfast, rich in vitamins and other valuable nutrients such as fiber and calcium.
Our suggestion: a glass of orange-pomegranate juice with extra vitamin C or apple-orange-carrot juice with provitamin A (which, in addition to the immune system, also enhances eye health) and 1-2 slices of whole meal bread with tahini and honey.
• In order to ensure the maximum amount of vitamins and antioxidants in fruits, choose seasonal fruits with vivid colors.
Our suggestion: fresh strawberries- an excellent source of vitamin C- just think that a cup of strawberries covers 110% of the daily amount of vitamin C needed by the body, a quantity that corresponds to about 2 small oranges! However, because vitamin C is a sensitive water-soluble vitamin that is relatively easily destroyed when it comes in contact with air, it is better to consume whole strawberries than to cut them into small pieces and place them in a bowl.
• Accompany your meal with salad – the more colorful the better, as each vegetable has separate nutrients to offer! Of course, a salad can be an option for a light or even a main meal depending on the ingredients, nutrients and calories it contains.
Our suggestion: a mixed salad with beetroot (for extra vitamin E, a vitamin with strong antioxidant activity, add olive oil) as a side/ light meal or a pasta salad with tuna, broccoli and Florina peppers as a mail meal
• Try to include fish in your diet twice a week. Ideally, choose fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and trout, which are rich in the valuable vitamin D and, of course, omega-3 fatty acids. You may have known omega-3s as allies of heart health, but according to studies, their benefits to our body are multiple and include maintaining a healthy immune system.
Our suggestion: grilled or baked sardines or even a green salad with salmon.
• Protect yourself with a… mineral shield! Although minerals are micronutrients, that is, components that our body needs in small amounts, their contribution to the defense and maintenance of our health is crucial. So make sure that your diet provides you with adequate amounts of iron (red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, fortified cereal etc.), selenium (seafood, fish, nuts, whole grains etc.) as well as zinc (fish, seafood, poultry, legumes etc.). According to several studies, adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold1 .
Extra tip (not purely food-related, but just as important!)
Get off the couch and use some of your free time to exercise.
According to studies, regular exercise not only contributes to the better defense of our body, but also helps us deal with stress and poor sleep quality, two factors associated with the weakening of our immune system.
To summarize, to ensure a strong immune system, make sure that you get enough of the following nutrients:
|Vitamin A- provitamin A||liver, cod liver oil, egg yolk, butter, fortified margarine, fatty fish, dairy products, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, mango, melon, etc.|
|Vitamin C||citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, kale, papaya, pineapple, mango, etc.|
|Vitamin D||Salmon, mackerel, mushrooms, cod liver oil, tuna, sardines, fortified milk / yogurt, egg yolk, cheese, etc.|
|Vitamin E||vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, soy, etc.|
|ω-3 fatty acids||fatty fish (salmon, sardine, anchovies, mackerel, trout, herring), seafood, fish, seeds e.g. flaxseed, sunflower seeds, walnuts, etc.|
|Selenium||seafood, fish, liver, egg, nuts e.g. Brazil nuts, whole grains, etc.|
|Iron||red meat, liver, dark poultry meat, fish, lentils, spinach, mushrooms, fortified cereals, etc.|
|Zinc||fish, seafood, poultry, cheese, legumes, etc.
1. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(2):85-94.