The Importance of Immune Health Going into Autumn

Now we are in September it is officially Autumn. Dust off the coats, pull out the boots and get ready for soups and cosy drinks to curl up with. The darker days and colder evenings bring with them a slump in health and wellbeing, and for a reason. With longer days and less of the sunshine Vitamin D, increased inactivity and cold weather bugs creeping around, we may find that we become more susceptible to feeling unwell.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to battle off autumn viruses and colds and keep your immune system fighting fit during the autumn months. Our in-house nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr shares her top tips for you to include to prep you for the seasons ahead:

Moderately Exercise
As the colder months descend we might find our favourite exercise form goes out the window. But that shouldn’t stop you. Before we get deep into winter, invest in some outdoor running gear, home weights or machines or try out online classes in the comfort of your own home.

Exercise is one of the best things we can do for overall health. It reduces stress hormones, helps your circulation and blood pressure and contributes to weight management.  However, over-exercising can have a detrimental impact on our immune systems. Studies show that after extreme exercise there is a higher chance of catching an infection for up to 72 hours. We recommend aiming for 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Take your Vitamin D 
The sunshine vitamin makes you feel GOOD. It contributes to our mood, immune system function, energy production, sleep, bone health and more… so when we lose our natural source of it as we enter Autumn and Winter, we need to seek it elsewhere to avoid low amounts or deficiencies.

The NHS suggests that everyone living in the UK should consider taking a maintenance dose of Vitamin D from the months of October to April. This dose is 400IU/10mcg.

Our advice. Get tested so you know if you need higher amounts than the recommended minimum. We like testing company Medichecks who send test kits to your home or Better You who also provides Vitamin D sprays.

Stock Up on Herbs & Spices  
Get ahead of the game and make sure your spice and herb rack is filled with natural wonders. Get your hands on some turmeric which is anti-inflammatory; ginger which is anti-viral (and anti-nausea); and oregano which is anti-bacterial. Add them into dishes such as soups, slow cooker curries and stews.

I also suggest checking out MEDA’s Defence drink. It is packed with vitamin C and Zinc but what I really love is the addition of Aronia berry and Echinacea. Aronia berry is packed with anti-oxidants and Echinacea which may contribute to immune system function.

Don’t Forget Veggies
Colours of the rainbow vegetables and fruits give us many of the nutrients we need to support our immune systems! But be aware, that over-boiling, frying, baking at high temperatures and grilling can reduce the nutrient content. Even though in winter we may want to eat warming foods, try to get in some raw veggies once a day and steam for a few minutes when cooking to retain the most nutrients. Aim for a fist of vegetables at every meal and use these colours as a guide:

·       Orange – gives you beta-carotene a form of vitamin A which support the immune system.

·      Blues give you anthocyanins an antioxidant which helps reduce oxidative stress.

·      Reds give you lycopene another antioxidant great for heart health.

·      Greens support liver function, eye health and lung health.