Health. These are foods that boost our immune system and boost our spirits in the winter


In winter, the immune system is very stressed and the lack of light can affect mood. Here is the advice of a dietitian from Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital to strengthen our immune defenses and lift our spirits … thanks to food.

In winter, health and morale are tested: Viruses and winter microbes threaten, and lack of light can lead to mood swings. However, a few good eating habits and regular physical activity can help our bodies adapt to the changing seasons. Professor Stéphane Woland, Hospital Practitioner in Clinical Nutrition at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital, makes the following observations: “In winter we have many problems. The first is the availability of food, which is not at all the same as summer, especially in terms of plants. We are in plants that have different nutritional characteristics, and they are probably less interesting than summer. The second point is that in winter, from “What is clear is that we need to better protect ourselves from the infectious risks lurking in this season. Also, low lighting can lower morale among people.”

Here are Professor Walland’s recommendations to help our bodies cope.

Professor Walland recommends choosing foods as close to their natural form as possible: “A good diet means having a balanced diet, it means eating the amount of food you need, no more, no less. It is also a varied diet, i.e. eating a little bit of whatever is available. The third secret to a high quality diet, which is not named Absolutely and perhaps most important, is food complexity. That means eating foods as close to their natural form as possible.” details: “For example, if we were to compare orange juice to orange juice: If I ate an orange, I would get a much better nutritional intake than if I drank orange juice. Even if the conversion was very weak, when I made orange juice, I heated it up a little bit, put your oranges in. In the light… when you look at your oranges, once you’ve squeezed your juice, there’s a lot left in there. For example, the little white rind that separates the different parts of the orange contains a whole host of interesting nutrients. The complexity of the food means I kept my food “As complex as possible, as close as possible to its natural form. And that’s how I’m going to get a high nutrient density. This is important in the summer, but even more so in the winter.”

There is no evidence that soup makes you grow up, however, it is very interesting from a nutritional point of view, according to the specialist: “It’s easy to make soup, and the benefit of the soup is that we’ll cook our vegetables in water, and obviously it won’t take long to avoid damaging the vitamins, then we blend in the water and drink the cooking water. Vegetables, when you cook them in water, they will release vitamins and minerals, i.e. micronutrients that It matters to our defense systems, especially in the winter. They’ll escape into the water. If you put water down the drain, you’re obviously losing all those interesting micronutrients, whereas the soup eats it all up.” According to Professor Walland, these micronutrients are very important for our natural defenses: We know that the immune system, the defense system, as it is called, relies heavily on micronutrients. If you have a deficiency in the micronutrients zinc, copper, iron, vitamin E…we know that the immune response is diminished.”

“We know that everyone in the population has a specific nutritional deficiency, for example, certain fatty acids. I’ve heard of omega-3s for example, these are called polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are also very important to the immune system. However, all The population is deficient in omega-3. Omega-3 regulates inflammation and immunity and obviously we need it in winter.”Professor Walland notes. Here are the foods he recommends: “Omega-3 sources are vegetable oils, especially rapeseed oil and walnut oil. There is also fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. I recommend eating oily fish once a week or, in salad dressings, using canola or walnut oil to boost your omega-3 status” .

Another important component is vitamin D. Surely you’ve heard of this sunshine vitamin. According to the specialist, the entire population suffers from vitamin D deficiency, “But more so in the winter.” He explains: “’The problem with vitamin D is that it is the sunshine vitamin, that is, it is produced in our skin under the influence of solar radiation. In the summer, I go out with a short sleeve or a short sleeve, and take vitamin D without any problem, but in the winter, the entire population is deficient in vitamin D. However, vitamin D regulates the immune system.” But then, how do you find it? “The problem with vitamin D is that we have very little of it in food. There’s a lot of it in cod liver but you don’t find much in stores anymore. We have dairy products that are also fortified with vitamin D: yoghurt or milk. The third way to get the vitamin (D) It is to go to the pharmacy and take a dietary supplement. We supplement the diet with something we do not find or at a very low dose in our diet.” Vitamin D not only affects the immune system but also the morale. A good supply of Vitamin D can compensate for the low morale associated with a lack of light.

If the choice of fruits and vegetables in winter is limited, there is no doubt that they can be dispensed with by Stephan Walrand: “Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to stop eating your 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are carriers of micronutrients. Through these foods we provide micronutrients that help us regulate our immune system.” Very colorful summer fruits and vegetables provide pigments, especially carotenoids, which are then converted into vitamins in the body. “In winter, we have much less choice in the colors of fruits and vegetables, so we have a less interesting selection of carotenoids, and these carotenoids are also regulators of our immune system. You have to diversify your fruits and vegetables. To be as effective as possible, I recommend choosing them in different colors. When you do By changing the color of a fruit or vegetable, you are changing its vitamin profile.”

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, Professor Walland recommends frozen foods: “In grading the quality of fruits and vegetables, I put fresh food on the same level as frozen foods in terms of nutritional composition. The industrial operators who make frozen foods have very strict specifications which means they go and pick the food, after a few hours, the food is frozen. It’s very interesting. It’s better to have good quality frozen food than canned food. The heating and pressure you put on canned food can cause you to lose a number of vitamins, but it’s always better for people to eat canned vegetables than not to eat vegetables of course.”

In addition to taking calcium, yogurt is also an ally of the immune system: “In the winter, we eat yoghurt almost at every meal to keep our microbes healthy, and it is very important to defend ourselves against the infectious dangers of winter. These are the bacteria in our gut and elsewhere in our bodies. We need to have a good, balanced microbiota and yoghurt helps these organisms.” Micronutrients help protect us from disease-causing bacteria or viruses in the winter.”says the doctor.

According to Professor Walland, “To be very preventive about low morale or low immunity, physical activity works really well. I recommend walking 30 minutes a day for people who have the time, but it could be 3 times 10 minutes or 6 times 5 minutes: I park a little further about my appointment, and I go for a salad at noon … In addition, I recommend at least once a week doing slightly increased physical activity for 40-45 minutes.It can be running, cycling or brisk walking, for example. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, on the contrary. It’s valid for all ages, and it’s valid for everyone.” And indeed, according to him, exercise is good for the immune system: “The benefits of physical activity on immunity are difficult to explain. They recognize the fact that physical activity will reduce the inflammatory component and will strengthen the barriers of the body, namely the intestinal barrier and the pulmonary barrier… Physical activity will also be positive for microbes.” Physical activity also has benefits for mental health, according to the professor: “When we exercise, we produce hormones in the brain called endorphins. These are the well-being hormones. And obviously, it’s good for morale!”

On the other hand, he recommends being careful and paying attention to symptoms: “There is no miracle. We’re not going to cure depression or the flu with food. It’s very important that we say this because there are people who, when we talk about superfoods for example, say to themselves, ‘If I eat this, I won’t get anything,’ or even, ‘I will be cured.’” This is not true. On the other hand, we can try to prevent as much as possible by strengthening immunity, through good nutrition.” If in doubt, consult a doctor.


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