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Best foods and vitamins to support immune health during the holiday season

As the season ramps up, it’s a great time to take some steps to support your immune system. Picture: Pexels/Any Lane

As the season ramps up, it’s a great time to take some steps to support your immune system. Picture: Pexels/Any Lane

Published Dec 14, 2021

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The chaos of the holidays, even if you’re shopping online, can make you feel rundown. As the season ramps up, it’s a great time to take steps to support your immune system. And with a fourth Covid-19 wave under way three health experts have urged South Africans to keep boosting immunity and to manage stress over the holidays.

Health expert Maria Ascencao has encouraged South Africans to strive to eat and live intentionally and take all the necessary precautions to stay healthy.

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“Being more intentional about the food you eat, what you do every day, what you read, and what you talk about will help the public to make healthier decisions. Choose immune-boosting foods, eat mindfully and avoid overindulging. Drink more water, eliminate distractions during mealtimes and give thanks for your meals,” said Ascencao.

Pharmacist and life coach Giulia Criscuolo urged the public to learn from last year’s holiday season when the pandemic contributed to a spike in mental health challenges. Criscuolo warned that “pandemic fatigue” and fear may contribute to stress.

“Remain kind – everyone you meet is experiencing difficulty. Try to have a flexible attitude, get enough restorative sleep, identify triggers, practise mindfulness stress relief strategies, and exercise regularly. Take personal action to safeguard your mental health,” she said.

Dr Arnike Redelinghuys, a health practitioner and expert in homeopathy said it is essential to continue boosting immunity during the holidays. Redelinghuys said research shows that healthy nutrition, including supplementation with vitamins and minerals, has beneficial effects on immunity.

“Eat nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein and try high-quality supplements with proven absorption, such as Biomax Liposomal Vitamin C, BetterYou DLux vitamin D oral spray, bioactive Bio-Milk Thistle, which contains organic silymarin, found to help improve liver and brain function, and Felix, which contains affron (saffron extract), to help enhance mood, sleep, and cognitive health,” she said.

Below Ascencao shares suggestions to help your body fight off a variety of illnesses, and in some cases, boost a person’s respiratory health. She said a holistic approach to health is the best defence against infection and illness and goes a long way in supporting immunity over the holiday season. It includes:

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  • A balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, preferably in the season when they are cheaper, more flavourful and nutritious.
  • Consuming less sugar and processed food, and drinking lots of water.
  • Increasing healthy fats such as raw nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil to help manage blood sugar levels and support the gut.
  • Regular exercise, good restorative sleep, mindfulness stress management methods, and high-quality supplements, to support a balanced diet.
  • Choosing supplements with proven absorption such those listed above. Additionally, vitamin C, E, zinc, selenium, probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids, echinacea, pelargonium, and multivitamins all support immunity.

Ascencao adds that other immune-boosting foods include oranges, bananas, kiwi, guava, papaya, cherries, broccoli, chilli peppers, kale, leafy green vegetables, chickpeas, cashews, rosehip, parsley, garlic, elderberry, yoghurt, eggs, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna and anchovies.

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