The Good Life with Dr Libby
Mother Earth has a clever way of providing us with what we need most at each time of the year. Vitamin C and zinc are essential for strong immune function and are more abundant in winter produce. Vitamin C is used to signal the production of white blood cells to protect us when foreign bacteria or viruses enter the body. It is also present in the fluid lining in our lungs and mucous membranes, where the antioxidant activity helps prevent inflammation and damage by bacteria and viruses, and is crucial for collagen production in the skin – something we also want to support over the winter months.
Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, so we need to consume it every day. Eat a piece of fruit or add lemon, orange or grapefruit to your morning juice. Incorporating leafy greens and broccoli into stir fries is another great way to boost your daily intake of vitamin C. Heat, light and the length of time since a food being harvested decreases vitamin C levels, so grab what you can from your local farmer's market, while supplementing vitamin C can also be highly beneficial.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for bone health, immunity, cancer prevention and mood regulation. Its role in bone health is to support the uptake of calcium and phosphate, which are bone-strengthening minerals. Over the winter months we often find ourselves wrapped up warm with less exposure to the sun, except for our hands and faces. As the sun’s action on the cholesterol in our skin is our major source of vitamin D, it is important to both spend a little time each day exposed to the sun and to increase our food sources of vitamin D. These include some oily fish, organic butter, and eggs (the vitamin D is found in the yolks).
Zinc is a superstar nutrient when it comes to immunity. This mineral is critical for a large number of processes, including appropriate immune responses. Too many people today don’t consume adequate dietary zinc, while others consume a diet that is too high in substances that interfere with the absorption of this vital mineral. Poor zinc status can lead to poor resistance to infection. Oysters, beef and lamb are good sources of zinc. In the plant family, seeds contain zinc; however, a much smaller amount is present. If you take a zinc supplement, it is best taken before bed to support great absorption.
Your grandma was right about chicken soup – bone broths contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids, which are all nutrients that support adrenal health as well as the immune system. Try making a broth from organic, grass-fed beef or lamb, or organic chicken bones with root vegetables and herbs and spices. Use the broth as a base for a vegetable soup or drink it on its own. Let food be your medicine this winter!