It’s that time of year in Oz, when the weather changes, the leaves on the trees are turning a beautiful array of autumn colours. It also means the onset of rainy, cold, dark, dreary days and nights ahead, along with the dreaded colds and flu season.
But what if I said to you, these simple tips below will help you build up your immune system, to help fight off the dreaded lurgy?
Even if you do get a cold, if you’ve built up your immune system to be strong, it will mean your cold won’t be as severe and your recovery, much quicker.
- Plenty of Sleep- A lack of sleep means our bodies can’t function correctly. Did you know that when we sleep, it’s when our bodies go into rest, digest and repair mode. It’s when our bodies organs and systems do all their repair work, so we can operate optimally, so without a good nights rest, we lack energy, make poor food choices, use caffeine to get us through the day, our bodies don’t get the ‘repair work’ it needs to do and all these things lower our immunity. Click here for tips on how to get a good nights rest.
- Drink Plenty of the Right Fluids– The obvious fluid to drink is water and lots of it, but if your like me, I don’t like to drink cold drinks when it’s cold outside, so drinking the right warming fluids, will not only warm you up, but hydrate you also. Our bodies need to be hydrated so it can function correctly, so here are some suggestions for good warming hydrating drinks; Bone broths/soups. Herbal teas- such as green, matcha and Tulsai are excellent for immune boosting. Boiled water, with a slice of lemon, ginger and honey in it. Here is a link to yummy immune boosting Smoothie from Teresa Cutter ( The Heathy Chef).
- Exercise- 30-40 minutes a day, up to 4 times a week, will increase blood flow and strengthen immunity, but be careful not to over exercise- this can cause unnecessary stress to an already stressed out body, which will in turn lower immunity. Think, walking, yoga, swimming, HIIT, etc.
- Stress Less– Our emotional state is connected to our physical being. There are two main ways that stress has a direct, negative effect on the immune system: 1. It creates chronic inflammatory conditions
2. It lowers the immunity of those who otherwise might have a healthy immune system.Chronic stress also results lower amounts of a protein that is critical to signalling other immune cells. So it’s important to manage our stress levels- think meditation, yoga, walking in nature, deep breathing exercises, etc.
I know that this is a major player with my health and when my stress levels are elevated, I can almost guarantee a cold or flu will set in if I don’t get it under control.
- Avoid Sugar- Refined sugars and even refined carbohydrates, feed so many diseases, so if we are constantly binging on these things, we are just weakening our immune system.
- Probiotic/gut health- Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity is located in our gut? Probiotics therefore, are beneficial for immunity due to a number of reasons. Firstly, probiotics help to rebalance the gut in favour of ‘good’ bacteria so that harmful bacteria are outnumbered. Secondly, certain types of gut bacteria are involved in functions related to the body’s immune system. Thirdly, healthy good bacteria also works to produce a barrier between food and the internal tissues of the body. So consuming probiotic rich foods, such as Kimchi, yoghurt, Miso, Kombucha or taking a good quality probiotic, will help keep your gut and immune system, tip top.
- Eat a Real Food Diet- eat a rainbow of colours, free of chemicals, hormones, sugar and artificial ingredients. Keep your food as real to nature as possible, as it feeds and builds a strong immunity. The best immune boosting foods are;
- Mushrooms- Mushrooms strengthen your immune system because they are rich in protein, fibre, vitamin C, B vitamins, zinc, calcium, and other minerals.
- Garlic & ginger- garlic is incredibly beneficial to your immune system because it offers a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. You should be eating garlic every day. Ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage.
- Cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables, which means they’re not only rich in antioxidant vitamins that give an immune system boost, but they also contain choline, a nutrient essential to a healthy diet. Choline keeps your cells functioning properly and also helps support a healthy gastrointestinal barrier, keeping bacteria safely confined in the gut. Cauliflower, in particular, is a beneficial food to eat when you’re sick because it’s also rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off infection.
- Eggs have gotten a bad rap because their yolks are high in cholesterol, but the yolks are also a rich source of protein, which can help immune-related problems. Egg yolks also contain zinc and selenium, which are important minerals that help boost the immune system.
- Leafy greens– Greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are immune-boosting foods that contain high levels of vitamin C, which not only packs a powerful antioxidant punch, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E. They also contain folate, another immune booster. Sauté kale, spinach, or Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil, or use fresh spinach to make an nutrient-rich salad — top it with fresh mushrooms to pack an extra immune-boosting punch.
- Chicken Broth- I have spoken about the huge benefits of bone broths before and chicken soup has been used in multiple cultures for centuries, for there amazing health benefits. Here is a link to my yummy Immune Boosting Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Eat good sources of Proteins- Protein helps nourish your immune system, repair the body and assist our detoxification pathways and recovery. Choose nutrient rich ones with a complete amino acid profile. Think good quality animal and plant proteins such as; organic free range meats, quinoa, amaranth, oats, nuts and seeds.
- Citrus- such as oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections.
Follow these 7 steps and build up a strong immunity this winter. Your body and sniffily nose will thank you for it!