In the cold season, we are most susceptible to colds. It is generally accepted that at this time, immunity decreases, and the body cannot actively resist viruses. What happens to our immunity then? How to strengthen it in winter and become less susceptible to ARVI? This year, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues are becoming especially relevant.
Doctors say that immunity does not weaken in winter. It’s just that during this period, several additional factors appear that create an additional load on our immune system. For example, in the cold season, people walk less, often sit in closed rooms, where more pathogens accumulate. Lack of sunlight leads to the fact that many have a craving for starchy foods and sweets, and an excess of glucose in the body depletes its reserves and reduces the reserves of vitamins and microelements.
How can we help our immunity in winter? Doctors say that a balanced diet, additional bituminization of the body, the right combination of work and rest, and minimizing stress are the foundation on which immunity and health, in general, are built.
Rule 1. Vitamin support
One often hears the opinion that it is unnecessary to take “artificial” vitamins, the body, they say, receives enough nutrients from food.
Avitaminosis is rare today, as there are vegetables and fruits on supermarket shelves all year round. But not all of us eat a balanced and varied diet. And therefore, the deficiency of certain vitamins and trace elements are present in the body even in summer. And if there are chronic diseases, then additional intake of nutrients is necessary all year round.
How do you understand if there is a deficiency in the body of vitamins and minerals? Lovers of accuracy can be tested in the laboratory. But very often, you can understand the state of the body and its needs by the characteristic features/
- hair loss, weakness, increased fatigue – deficiency of iron, vitamin D, zinc, B12, B6
- dry skin – deficiency of vitamins A, E, omega-3
- bleeding gums – deficiency of vitamin C, bioflavonoids
- loose skin – deficiency of protein, collagen, vitamin C, copper
- cracks in the corners of the mouth – deficiencies of B vitamins, iron
- muscle cramps – deficiency of magnesium, calcium
- tingling and numbness of the extremities – deficiency of vitamins B6, B9, B12
- frequent colds – deficiency of vitamin D, C, B3, selenium
Most often, colds are caused by a deficiency of the following vitamins and minerals. By the way, they are now prescribed for prevention and in the first place with COVID-19 disease.
Vitamin C. It is an antioxidant, a reliable shield against the virus. The prophylactic dosage for an adult is 1000 mg/day. Of course, it would be preferable to get a sufficient dose of this vitamin from natural sources – food. The required dose of vitamin C is contained, for example, in 500 grams of black currants or 3 bunches of parsley. But who eats so much a day? Therefore, it is advisable, in addition to food, to add vitamins.
Vitamin D. It determines the state of your immunity. To date, there are several WHO studies that vitamin D deficiency reduces the risks of COVID-19 and the severity of the disease itself. A prophylactic dose of 1000-2000 IU depends on age. If there is a significant deficiency, the dosage can be increased, but the doctor must choose it. The 25-OH test will help determine the level of vitamin D3. If the indicator is below 30 ng/ml, your immunity cannot resist viruses; you need to fill the deficit urgently.
Zinc. A deficiency of this element also leads to a weakening of the immune system. Also, the role of zinc deficiency in the occurrence of atherosclerosis, liver cirrhosis, and sexual dysfunctions has been proven. Many foods are rich in zinc; oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, spinach, eggs. But the fact is that the body absorbs only about 20% of the zinc that comes with food. Therefore, it is necessary to include in the diet vitamin and mineral complexes with zinc in the autumn-winter period. If you want to make sure that you need to take additional zinc, you can also take a blood test to determine this element’s concentration. We add that the latest research has proven that taking zinc and vitamin C inhibits inflammation, neutralizes free radicals, reduces cytokine storm and lung damage
To satisfy the body’s need for all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is advisable to take vitamin complexes. Also, for better assimilation of some elements, certain cofactors are needed. For example, for the assimilation of iron or the synthesis of collagen, vitamin C is required. Multivitamin complexes are developed, taking into account these characteristics and by international recommendations for dosages. Therefore, there is no risk of getting an overdose of vitamins or minerals.
2. Proper nutrition to strengthen immunity
In the cold season, it is worth changing your diet so that the foods you eat work to strengthen, not weaken, immunity.
Protein in the diet is essential for strengthening the immune system. From the amino acids that make up protein, our immune cells are built. To boost the body’s natural immune response, you need to eat 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight daily.
Immunity activator products that should be added to the diet.
- eggs, meat, fish, fermented milk products – sources of complete proteins
- liver, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, fish oil – sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, Omega 3
- onions, garlic, ginger, herbs – sources of phytoncides
- red berries and fruits (raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates, grapes), red vegetables (paprika, hot peppers) – sources of bioflavonoids
- greens, citrus fruits – sources of vitamin C, a universal immune stimulator, and antioxidants.
Foods that weaken the immune system and are not needed in winter:
- sweets, pastries containing sugar and white flour – fast carbohydrate
- cakes, waffles, fries, margarine, sour cream products containing trans fats
- condiments containing monosodium glutamate
- sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.) containing preservatives and dyes
- all sausages smoked meats
- soybeans, wheat-containing GMO products
- coffee more than 1 cup a day, chocolate – products with caffeine
3. Drink water even if you don’t feel like it
In winter, we are less thirsty for water. However, the body’s need for fluid does not decrease, but on the contrary. Hydration protects against germs and viruses, prevents drying out of mucous membranes, preventing viruses from entering the body.
During the period of colds, epidemics, it is necessary to drink water daily at 30-40 grams per 1 kg of body weight. For example, with a weight of 60 kg, you need to drink 1.8 – 2.4 liters of water, with 80 kg – up to 3.2 liters of water.
4. Walking in the fresh air during the day
In autumn and winter, you should still try to walk in the fresh air every day, in any weather. This greatly strengthens the immune system. Moreover, it is advisable to be outdoors during daylight hours to receive at least a little sunlight. In this case, it is imperative to dress for the weather, not to overcook.
5. Moist and clean indoor air
In heated rooms, the air is usually too dry and hurts the mucous membranes. Therefore, in the cold season, rooms should be ventilated more often, use humidifiers and air purifiers.
6. Physical activity
Many people know that doctors recommend regularly doing exercises, playing sports, but do not understand how this is related to immunity. Meanwhile, the connection is straightforward. Regular to moderate exercise helps reduce inflammation in the body and improves blood flow and lymph drainage. Examples of moderate exercise are walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, light hiking.
7. Minimize stress
Psychological stress can suppress the body’s immune response. Stress, which is observed for a long time, contributes to an imbalance in immune cells’ functions. Therefore, it is important to take care of your psychological health.
Also read: 10 Sleep Misconceptions That Can Hurt You
8. Live by your biological clock
It is essential to observe circadian rhythms at any time of the year. Go to bed on time (around 22:00) and wake up early in the morning. Sleep at least 7 hours (adults). Lack of sleep leads to the fact that the body becomes more susceptible to various diseases. In this case, adolescents should sleep 8-10 hours, and younger children – up to 12 hours.
9. No smoking
Not only traditional cigarettes but also e-cigarettes and hookahs significantly weaken the respiratory function of the lungs. And if you smoke at temperatures below 0, then the risk of getting a cold increase dramatically.
Adapted and translated by Wiki Avenue Staff
Sources: Today Lifestyle