With shorter days and plummeting temperatures, the likelihood of catching a cold or the flu increases – after all, winter has arrived! To avoid stocking up on boxes of tissues, sipping on Lemsip for the next few months and having a nose as red as Rudolph, read below for Clarissa’s top tips to keep your immune system on top form this winter.
IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT – NUTRIENTS
To help support our bodies during the winter months, try adding in a few of these key vitamins and minerals, required for immune system health.
● Zinc- a mineral that can be topped up from seafood, red meat, pulses, nuts and seeds. A zinc deficiency may potentially impact the immune system’s ability to function optimally, resulting in an increased risk of infection and disease. (1)
● Vitamin C- this potent vitamin and antioxidant that can enhance our immune cells ability to protect against infection. Vit C is also required for cellular death and works by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones. (2) Top up your Vit C levels from citrus fruits, broccoli, red peppers and kiwi.
● Vitamin D: Vitamin D has the ability to lower and decrease inflammation, which in turn promotes a healthy immune response. (3) Due to the lack of sunlight in winter, it is advised that from October – April, people living in the UK consider supplementing with the RDI of vitamin D – which is 10mcg/400 IU.
OPT FOR OMEGA 3 – Omega 3 is a form of essential fatty acid that offers a wide range of health benefits including supporting cardiovascular, brain and hormone health.
When it comes to the immune system, omega-3 has been shown to help activate immune system cells such as white blood cells that we need for a robust immune response. (5) In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. High levels of inflammation can lead to chronic health diseases include immune-related conditions.
Top up your omega 3 intake by regularly consuming oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel, or plant-based options such as walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.
GIVE YOUR GUT SOME LOVE
Did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in the digestive tract? Pretty amazing, right! So what better place to start than the gut when thinking about immune system support.
- Aim for 30g of fibre per day through pulses, wholegrains and keeping the skin of fruit and veg. Fibre helps to feed our gut bacteria and keep our bowel movements regular and healthy.
- Incorporate fermented foods. Through the process of fermentation, these foods contain live bacteria, that can help support the balance of bacteria in the gut. Try out live yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut or kimchi.
- Consume Prebiotic foods daily. These foods are insoluble fibres that make their way mostly undigested to the large intestine, where our gut bugs can feed on them. This helps our gut bacteria to stay strong and thrive! Include raw garlic, onion, asparagus, flaxseeds, apples and Jerusalem artichokes on the reg!
BE MINDFUL OF BOOZE – A high consumption of alcohol over time can increase our susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections, as alcohol can trigger inflammation in the gut and destroy microorganisms. (4) Heavy boozing can also make it challenging for the body to properly tend to other critical functions, such as fighting off an infection.
Aim to have no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, have a few nights of a week and consider low alcohol options such as MEDAHUMANS MEDATINI.