August 10, 2022

Supporting your mental health & immunity with Vitamin D

We asked our dietitian Liv Morrison for the low down on how we can best look after our immunity when it’s cold and we’re more susceptible to getting sick.

Here’s everything that Liv had to say…

Funnily enough, your immunity and gut health are a two-way street! The vast majority (approx. 90%) of your immune cells are found in the digestive system, so your gut bacteria are in constant communication with your immune cells. This feedback determines how our body responds to infection which is pretty cool considering that you can completely change your gut microbiome in a matter of days, simply by eating more fibre!

With that said, it’s no shock that the best way to support your immunity throughout the colder months is to prioritise eating a variety of plants (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes).

The Mediterranean diet has shown to be the best style of eating to boost your gut health and improve immune function due to its stand out microbe-friendly variety of unsaturated fats, high levels of polyphenols, antioxidants and abundance of fibre from plant-based foods.

In my opinion, Vitamin D is the most important nutrient to focus on throughout winter, not only for its role in immune function but also, its impact on our mental health, with depression being a primary symptom of Vitamin D deficiency.

For Aussies living in southern states like; Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, your sun exposure recommendations are much higher in winter than other states. With COVID-19 cases rising again over winter and many people self-isolating, there are ways you can increase your Vitamin D through your food choices if you can’t get outside. Foods like eggs, fortified milk or margarine, mushrooms that have been left in the sunshine for 10 minutes before consumption and oily fish like salmon and mackerel are naturally high in Vitamin D!

My go-to Vitamin D packed KIC recipes: 

  • Pesto Eggs 
  • Smoked Salmon & Egg Cups 
  • Salmon, Dill & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta 
  • Baked Feta with Salmon
  • Mushroom Ragu 
  • Moroccan Mushroom & Lentil Shepard’s PIe 

If you are concerned about deficiency, please check in with your GP as supplements like Ostelin may be a more suitable option for people with melanated skin or those with severe deficiency. Please remember, regardless of how well you eat or how many supplements you take, your body and immune system only work at their best when you’re eating ENOUGH and fuelling your body to meet its energy requirements.

Therefore it’s important that you’re giving your body all the food it needs to ensure it’s at its best to thrive and fight off any sicknesses. So, if you’re noticing that you’re constantly cold or getting sick often, you may need to eat a little more to support your immune system during the cooler months.

Liv Morrison