|Xmas = gluttony!|
It might be full of joviality and greeting card scenes, but is there a darker time of year for your body's immune system than the Christmas period? As the cold sets in and family and friends gather round for cheerful times roasted butternut squash over a roaring fire, so too do germs, bugs, and other malodorous maladies!
There are two routes to go when you realise that your Christmas is going to be a germ fest, full of exotic new flore and fauna just dying to explore your digestive tract and cause all kinds of hilarious and unfortunate symptoms. The first route is to seal yourself in a complete vacuum, allowing in no oxygen or outside agents with the added bonus and having little interaction with those pesky kin of yours! However, the downside is death, which the lack of oxygen tends to bring on, as well being in a hermetically sealed bubble. Never fear, there is a second option!
The other, and more sane, option, is to boost your immune system through a healthy and varied diet, and also by targeting specific foods to keep you healthy and hearty! I am going to run through a series of awesome booster vitamins and minerals that will help decrease the chance of getting sick this Christmas and keep your rippling muscles strong. Onwards to wisdom!
|The season can be merry AND healthy!|
That most famous of immune boosters! This has been researched deeply and extensively and has consistently been shown to be one of the keys of a powerful immune system. Vitamin C increases your white blood cell count (the infection fighters in your body!) as well as increasing levels of interferon, an antibody that coats cell surfaces, giving viruses less chance of successful entry into your healthsome body! 6 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day are recommended, especially seasonal vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, satsumas (in your stocking!) and herbs like thyme and parsley. These are all things that are cooked regularly at Christmas so it's a great and easy way to get a quick immunity fix!
2. Vitamin E.
The less famous chum of Vitamin C doesn't get as much press as its more lauded companion but is equally as important! Vitamin E stimulates the production of the body's natural killer cells, that go on search and destroy missions for germs and cancerous cells. They also increase immune cell production, creating bacteria-slaying antibodies. It has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, which is a pretty positive if non-immune relate benefit, cutting the risk of heart attacks by 50% in a study of 87,000 nurses! Foods high in Vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach and tomatoes. A good idea is to scatter nuts and seeds around as snacks for people; not only will this prevent snacking on corn syrip and sugar laden dirtsnacks, but it will also increase the casual intake of essential oils and vitamin E for all involved!
|Almonds are your friend!|
Omega oils are an amazing and famous immune booster that increase the activity of phagocytes, those bacteria-munching white blood cells! If combined with Vitamin E, this provides a huge boost to the immune system as a tag team. Flax oil is your friend in this situation, vegan chums, as most other sources are from fatty fish. Pescetarians, eat your fill of salmon, tuna and mackerel too!
4. Garlic and onions.
Ok, I know they aren't vitamins or minerals, but they do contain them! Anyway, these bad boys get their own section because, frankly, I love them and am always recommending that people have more of them. I eat them with most meals and fortunately my girlfriend does too, so we can be pungent together! Seriously these two are nutritional beasts, with garlic giving you vitamins A, B, and C as well as selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Eating garlic regularly should help prevent colds and other ailments, as well as reducing symptoms and recovery times when suffering from the dreaded lurgy!
|Make some roasted garlic hummus!|
Back on track with this crucial mineral. Zinc helps produce white blood cells and anti-cancer cells. Zinc increases T-cells, infection fighters that help the immune system fight off infectious beasties! Roasted pumpkin, tahini and squash seeds are all chock-full of this powerful immune boosting mineral, as well as unsweetened dark chocolate, cocoa and peanuts. Now you've an excuse to eat some creative Christmas nibbles to boost that Zinc intake!
Anyway, those are a few brief rundowns of the things you can munch on to help stay strong and healthy over this potentially germy period! It can be easy to slip at Christmas and the combination of sugary, immune-crushing foods, new germs from visiting relatives and staying in a constantly well-heated bacteria-friendly home can all lead to health downturns. Have fun but try and keep yourself strong too - get some fresh air and try to keep in mind some of these tasty but nutritionally awesome foods!
Merry Christmas y'all, and hope that Santa doesn't leave you too many lumps of coal!