Eating for immunity in winter

28 Jul, 2023

This month, we had the pleasure of engaging in an insightful conversation about eating for immunity in winter with our very own Dietitian, Bec. She shared valuable insights on how to nourish and support our bodies and minds during the colder months. In this article, you’ll hear her expert advice and tips to help you thrive during this season of wellness and self-care.

What is your advice about eating for immunity?

The best thing we can do to strengthen our immunity is to make healthy lifestyle choices. This includes getting enough sleep, keeping physically active and having a nutritious diet.

When it comes to nutrition, there are no recommendations for any particular diet or food to strengthen immunity or prevent colds/flus.

We should aim for a balanced diet that incorporates core food groups including vegetables, whole grains, fruit, lean proteins and calcium containing foods.

Are there any nutritional choices to increase a positive mood during these colder/drearier winter months?

There has been research to suggest that dietary patterns high in refined, processed, and fried foods are associated with higher odds of low mood. On the other hand, this research supports those dietary patterns high in fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and low in saturated fats and processed foods are associated with reduced odds of low mood and are beneficial for overall health as well as positive mood.

Are there any winter superfoods?

While there is no specific ‘superfood’ for protecting us against the winter cold and flu; eating a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables ensures that you are getting an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system. For the average person, aim for 2 serves of fruit (eg. 1 medium piece such as a banana or 2 small pieces such as mandarins) and 5 serves of veg (eg. 1/2 cup cooked veg, 1 cup salad veg, 1/2 medium tomato or 1/2 medium potato). There is some evidence to suggest Vitamin C can reduce the duration of cold symptoms but not enough to recommend doses or supplements. You can make sure you get plenty of Vitamin C by including fruits and veggies such as oranges, mandarins, capsicum, berries and dark leafy greens.

Any ways to avoid winter comfort eating/how to make better nutritional choices?

We can definitely seek comforting meals in winter when it is colder. I would suggest having warm and nourishing meals that tick the boxes of both comfort and nutrition. This could be a nice warm bowl of oats for breakfast topped with fruit, mixed seeds and a drizzle of nut butter; a comforting bowl of soup for lunch packed with vegetables and lean protein, with a slice of toast; and opting for dishes like casseroles or slow-cooker meals for dinner where you can easily add in a good variety of vegetables. Prioritising regular meals with protein and fibre will also make sure we feel satisfied throughout the day and reduce the likelihood of wanting to seek out larger amounts of discretionary foods higher in saturated fats and sugar later in the day.

Any additional support mechanisms for a healthier self during winter?

In addition to a nutritious, well-balanced diet; good sleep and physical activity also support us in being our healthiest self. Lack of sleep can reduce our bodies ability to fight off colds and flus, so we should aim for 7 – 8hours of good quality sleep each night. Ways to support this include ensuring that your bedroom is nice and dark; and minimising screen time an hour before bed. Physical activity is also very important. General advice recommends 30minutes minimum per day, and even better if you can do this outside for a good dose of Vitamin D to also support your health!

How a mobile Dietitian appointment can help

If you or a loved one would like more guidance on eating for immunity in winter, our Dietitian’s can help. Contact our friendly Client Experience team on 1300 122 884 to schedule an initial appointment.

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