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This is where I make a reference to winter and the colder months.
It feels like Christmas was only last week, it wasn’t. And just like it hit us hard last year, we are dealing with more darkness and sometimes, miserable weather.
There are positives to the colder months. I’m thinking winter sports, how the mountain looks, warm duvets, hot drinks, crockpots and snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie. This is all good stuff. If you can capitalise on these factors you’re doing well. Unfortunately for some, winter may mean a sore throat, lots of snot, and collapsing on the couch; not to watch movies but because you’re sick. Also, on a serious note, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may rear it’s sleepless and depressive head.
Food only counts as nutrition when you actually eat it. When you eat well the chances are you feel well. In winter you may not feel well, so a lack appetite or your normal drive to prioritise healthy eating may not be present.
We need to make sure our immunity is bullet proof before the winter bugs threaten to invade. Well, as bullet proof as we can make it anyway. This is to help prevent the onset of sickness so we don’t have to rebuild back to baseline, so we have the energy to try new crock pot recipes, or the energy to go snowboarding.
When you talk about immunity and how nutrition can help, people automatically think of Vitamin C. And on some level, they are correct to do so. However, it is one piece of the immunity puzzle. And of all the pieces, it is potentially the easiest to place. Don’t disregard Vitamin C or B-Vitamins, but If you focus on finding the right spot for harder pieces of the puzzle it can speed up the completion of the whole puzzle. And we all should all want to be the master of our immunity puzzle.
New positive to winter, puzzles? Definitely.
I’m thinking along the lines of Zinc and Vitamin D. Zinc plays a powerful role in our immune system. The best source of zinc is oysters. But let’s be real, people don’t eat oysters on the regular. The next best dietary source is meat, like red meats; poultry and seafood. After that it is beans, legumes and dairy products. Vegetarian sources of zinc have compounds in them that may prevent maximum zinc absorption. So, while vegetarian diets have their benefits, a downside may be lower zinc levels in comparison to meat eaters.
Vitamin D as we know, comes from the sun. Our skin then converts it into a currency we can spend on helping our bones, mental health and immune system. When the sun goes away, so does our Vitamin-D provider and our skins income source. So over the winter months, our options are to make a conscious effort to get some sunlight on our skin or start taking a supplement. The amount of sunlight and dosage that is right for you is dependent on several factors. Ask your dietitian for specifics regarding dosage of supplements and once the sun comes out again, stop the supplement.
The ultimate recipe for success is eating oysters and plenty of fruit and vegetables in the sun. If this doesn’t sound like a good time then think along the lines of a chicken or salmon salad, followed by some fruit. A Vitamin-D Supplement may be required and If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, maybe a zinc supplement too. Do you best to stay well this winter, cue the puzzles and crockpots.
Maggie Radich – Owner of New Plymouth Nutrition