Tips To Boost Your Immune System
Whenever the winter months roll around, there are a number of winter illnesses that come along with it. Here are some tips to help boost your immune system and keep those cold season lurgies at bay.
Up Your Food Game
Phytonutrients are special naturally occurring chemicals that can only be found in plants. They help fight off some illnesses and also bolster your immune system, but here's the catch - different plants have different phytonutrients. Eating a diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables and fruits will help you get those benefits while also including fibre which helps keep your gut healthy.
Gut health is linked to a healthy immune system, so make sure you include both pre and probiotics as well for a happier tum.
Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics (fibre that we can't digest, but probiotics can) and can be found in things such as leeks, onions, garlic, legumes and oats.
Probiotics are the 'good' bacteria that can be helpful to your body and are found in your gut. They can become depleted for various reasons including stress, a diet high in processed foods, illness, or taking antibiotics. You can add them into your diet with fermented foods such as kimchi or saeurkraut, kefir, kombucha, and natural yoghurt.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
We always recommend getting your vitamins and minerals from real whole foods first and foremost, though the following are also available in supplement form. If you're looking to boost your immunity here are some of the key options that may help:
- Echinacea - Is a group of plants from the daisy family and is said to potentially help prevent or shorten the duration of colds. This is more commonly found in supplement form.
- Vitamin C - Mother Nature knows to grow us fruits rich in Vitamin C during the winter months! Find it in citrus fruit (lemons, mandarins, grapefruit oranges, tangelos) and kiwifruit, as well as strawberries.
- Turmeric - Curcumin, found in turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It's easy to add a pinch of ground turmeric into your food or even tea. It's said that having it with black pepper increases your body's ability to absorb it better.
- Ginger - Freshly grated ginger has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties - add a little into your cooking for a boost.
- Manuka honey - Famed for its antibacterial properties, add some into hot water with a little grated ginger and turmeric, and a squeeze of lemon for a natural wellness tonic. Not all Manuka honeys are created equally though; medicinal honey will typically be graded with a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating which tells you the quality and purity of the honey. They may alternatively be graded with an MGO (Methylglyoxal) rating which measures a specific antibacterial compound. The higher these numbers, the more beneficial the honey will be.
For each of these, there's not much concrete evidence that taking them in supplement form will actually help prevent or fight off winter illnesses, so whether you choose to take them or not is up to you.
Rest & Recover
Your immune system works best when you're well rested and your stress levels are low, so prioritise recovery time in the winter months. Get into good sleep habits for a decent 7-8 hours of sleep each night if you can, add rest days into your training schedule, give yourself time out to de-stress if you feel things get overwhelming and try doing some yoga to nourish your nervous system.
Mayo Clinic. Common Cold - Diagnosis and Treatment (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/echinacea/faq-20058218)
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