The start of a new year is often coupled with self-reflection and the desire to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, but this year prioritizing health takes on greater meaning as people look to boost their immune system and prevent illnesses. Holistic health and immunity against common colds go hand in hand – according to U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, healthy individuals should make sure to maintain their immune system to lower the incidence of infection, lessen severity of symptoms, shorten duration of colds, which suggests that regular supplementation could be encouraged for preventing and treating their colds. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., nutrition expert and author of Why Diets Fail, provides recommendations to boost immunity through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and supplementation which can easily be incorporated into one’s daily health and wellness routine.
“This year, functional nutrition and holistic health will be big whether it is using food as medicine or making diet and lifestyle changes for preventative wellness and increased immunity,” says Avena. “Depending on what those goals are, whether it’s fitness improvement or stress reduction, nutritional solutions are available through various foods, vitamins, and supplements that can specifically assist in attaining both holistic health and immune system support.”
Below, Dr. Avena recommends ways to support the immune system and reveals how nutrients play a role in immune system functionality and mood regulation.
- Consume 1 to 2 grams of Vitamin C per day to reduce duration and severity of common colds. This antioxidant protects against oxidative damage in white blood cells and other important immune cells so that they can function optimally, assuring a strong barrier against environmental pathogens and pollutants. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and more.
- Go outside to enjoy Vitamin D. A quick walk during the day can do wonders for the body, especially when the sun is shining. Make sure to apply SPF and head outside for 10-30 minutes per day to take advantage of the sun’s natural form of Vitamin D as this vitamin is a healthy resource to protect against common colds and can decrease inflammation. Can’t go outside? Not too many foods contain vitamin D naturally, but salmon and white mushrooms are some options to try. Also, try to include Vitamin D-fortified food products in your diet, like milks, cheeses, and cereals.
- Power up your Zinc intake. Zinc helps build the innate immune system and shorten the duration of colds. Macrophages and other white blood cells that attack pathogens need zinc to function at full capacity. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins makes an easy-to take and highly potent Zinc supplement that contains 15mg of Zinc and 270mg of Vitamin C.
- Consider Elderberry as a natural remedy for the cold and flu. The berries and flowers of Elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system and reduce recovery time after a cold or flu by activating the body’s immune response, increasing antibodies, and expanding immune cell production. Elderberries are safe to ingest when cooked, and can be used in many forms including syrup, tea, tincture, pill, gummies, and lozenges.
- Magnesium does it all, especially when about 300mg is consumed per day. There’s evidence that magnesium plays a major role in brain function, sleep regulation, and emotional stability. The mineral contains calming properties while activating your parasympathetic nervous system and can be found naturally in leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and milk. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins fuses together this essential mineral with a tropical citrus flavor into a yummy gummy with 165mg of magnesium that can be supplemented into the diet.
“It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or changing your diet in a drastic way. Holistic health is a preventative measure and while specific goals can be important benchmarks to make – implementing healthy lifestyle routines that are manageable and promote overall wellness can help you achieve your goals while also making lasting changes to your overall wellness,” adds Avena.