Sniffles and blues don’t have to be part and parcel of this season. You can keep them away by eating right. Winter is the season for keeping your immune system ticking as well as providing the brain with ‘feel good’ chemicals. Below is a list of foods that can help boost immunity and keep you warm and happy.
Beat the Blues
Fish: Vitamin D, found in especially high levels in fish, can help relieve mood disorders by increasing the amount of serotonin-one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the ‘feel good factor’-in the brain. According to a study by the Department of Medicine, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, St Louis, low levels of Vitamin D were associated with poor moods and the inability to complete certain mental tests. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are a good choice.
Eggs: Eggs are rich in phospholipids that help keep the brain sharp as well as enhance our memory.
Oranges & Spinach are commonly linked to Vitamin C, but they are also high in folate. Folate is said to play an important role in enhancing moods and, like Vitamin B12, it helps in the creation of serotonin.
Nuts and seeds: Most nuts contain selenium, which helps in preventing depression and is vital for good mental health. Having 4 almonds and 2 walnuts a day can help keep the blues away.
Beat the Sniffles
Veggies: Best eaten slightly crunchy Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, spinach and fenugreek leaves are a potent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, folate and calcium. Orange and yellow coloured veggies such as pumpkin and squash are rich in carotenoids and Vitamin A-both powerful anti-oxidants. In a Boston University School of Medicine study, researchers observed that pregnant women who consume at least seven servings (80 g per serving) of fruits and vegetables per day reduce the risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection.
Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi contain polysaccharides, sterols, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that increase your immune function. Mushrooms are rich in zinc which has anti-oxidant and immunity boosting properties.
Wholegrains: Wholewheat, oats, quinoa, rye, jowar, bajra and brown rice are rich in B vitamins, zinc and selenium, which look after our immune system. Their fibre content keeps our intestines healthy, often considered the first line of defence against illness.
Spices: Onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano are anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. They are also rich in anti-oxidants and can help ward off and fight infections. Ginger, for instance, is an excellent tonic for sore throats.
Yogurt: It may not seem like the ideal winter food, but yogurt helps to maintain the right balance of flora in the gut. The friendly bacteria in our gut help prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria and candida, keeping infections at bay. They are also vital for optimal digestion.
Meghna Nanda Dasgupta