We are more likely to get ill when the seasons change, as our bodies undergo immune pattern changes that can lead to an immune response and illness. This is particularly the case as we go into Autumn, as the temperatures drop, the hours of sunlight diminish and we start to stay indoors for longer periods.
This susceptibility to seasonal infections is also affected by stress, lack of sleep, diet, exposure to allergens and current and past infections.
In terms of diet, there are specific nutrients that have been proven to help support our immune system, including the following:
• Vitamin C – Found in many fruits and vegetables, vitamin C content is particularly high in broccoli, kiwi, sweet peppers and citrus fruits. It has been shown to contribute to the normal function of the immune system in adults and children, to reduce tiredness and fatigue, and to act as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative stress.
• Vitamin D – With a clear role in immunity and produced mainly through the action of sunlight on skin, vitamin D can be found in small amounts in some foods, including mushrooms, salmon and eggs. As food is a limited source, the UK government recommends that everybody takes a supplement of 10g of vitamin D throughout the autumn and winter months.
• Zinc – Providing support for the immune system and acting as an antioxidant, zinc has been shown to reduce the duration of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) when taken upon symptom onset. It is found in seeds, nuts and leafy green vegetables.
• Selenium – Found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and oily fish, selenium is an antioxidant and provides support to the immune system and thyroid function.
Other compounds that have also been shown to be helpful to immunity and particularly to help reduce the risk of URTIs are cranberry extract, beta glucans and friendly bacteria (probiotics).
ProVen Probiotics brand new Urgent-C Everyday Immune Support provides all of the above nutrients in one easy to use daily powder sachet that can be made up into a delicious orange-flavoured fizzy drink or taken directly into the mouth.