This Winter, Let Your Health Shine!

This Winter, Let Your Health Shine!

Posted by Geneviève Nadeau on Nov 15, 2012 | Food And Nutrition

Flu and virus season is upon us. It is cold outside, and the small number of daylight hours is making us feel weak and grim. What if eating helped us fight germs and improve our mood? Here is how to get through the hazards of winter. 

Rely on Zinc and Vitamin D

While zinc cannot promise to treat a cold, this mineral plays an important role in maintaining your immunity. You can skip the supplements – a prolonged use of them could, in fact, weaken you. To meet your zinc needs, consume nuts and legumes every day, and go for whole grain-based cereal products on a regular basis. Consuming refined cereal products (pasta or white bread) remains less effective, as zinc can mainly be found in bran (fibers) and cereal grain sprouts[1].

As for Vitamin D, its effects seem promising with regards to the immune system’s effectiveness. Several studies suggest a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and an increased risk of breast and colorectoral cancer. Since your skin produces Vitamin D from sun rays, its reserves run low during winter. In order to consume the right amount year-round, eat fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel…), egg yolk, cow milk or enriched soya drinks. In addition to those, rely on supplements (400 to 1,000 IU a day) especially if you are 50 or older. Older adults’ skin produces up to four times less vitamin D than adults aged 20 to 30[2].

To your bacteria!

Consuming living bacteria (probiotics) could modulate your intestinal flora and help your immune system. According to several studies, certain stocks, such as L.casei DN114001 and B.lactis 420, appear to be more effective than others. For them to have a real impact on your corporal defense, you would have to consume them regularly, if not daily. Do the test[3],[4]!

Anti-Grinch Foods

Winter days have you looking down? Feed your brain! In order to generate the information it receives, your brain feeds exclusively on carbs (sugars). Fresh fruit, couscous, cereal… 50% of your energy intake has to come from carbs. Consume them without remorse, in small quantities, at every meal.

Furthermore, the brain is essentially composed of fat. And to insure the transmission of nerve impulses, brain cells need omega 3 fat. Sardine, tuna, chia seeds or walnuts could thus help cells to be limber and dynamic, which would in turn ensure better brain activity and impact your behaviour in a positive way[5].

Orange juice, raw onions, chicken broth… Certain foods have a placebo effect on your immunity or your mood. Be that as it may, nothing prevents you from enjoying their great taste. What do you do to pamper your body during the cold season?


[1] ANREF, IOM, 2006, Zinc p.403

[2] ANREF, IOM, 2006 Vitamin D p. 230

[3] Hormannsperger G, Haller D. Molecular Crosstalk of Probiotic Bacteria with the Intestinal Immune System: Clinical Relevance in the Context of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Int J Med Microbiol. 2010; 300:63-73.

[4] Ruemmele FM, Bier D, Marteau P, Rechkemmer G, Bourdet-Sicard R, Walker WA, et al. Clinical Evidence for Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotic Bacteria. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009;48:126-41

[5] Thibault, L. Nourrir son cerveau, Les Éditions de L’Homme, 2003, 200p.