During the winter months is the time when everyone around us can start to get sick making us more vulnerable to coughs and colds. So, we want our immune system to be ready to respond to winter nasties!
And, particularly during party season, it can be all too easy to burn the candle at both ends. But, here is the thing, this has a huge negative impact on your immune system and it may be compromised making you more susceptible to coughs, colds and infections.
The immune system is extremely complex, so here I keep things simple so that you support your body’s natural immunity before the winter bugs hit!
Here are my 5 Top Tips to help keep your immune system healthy:
1. Think GUT. A healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system as 75% of the immune cells are located there. The good bacteria in the gut increase the number of immune cells and fight off the bad bacteria. One of the best ways is to provide your gut bacteria (microbiome) is through probiotics (1)
Probiotic supplements can provide the gut with huge numbers of beneficial bacteria, commonly Lactobacillus and Bifidobatcerium. Eating probiotic foods such as live cultured yoghurt, kefir, miso kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut add to the diversity of gut bacteria and prebiotic rich foods such as onions, leeks and garlic stimulate the growth of gut bacteria in the gut (2)
2. Vitamin D - are you getting enough? Vitamin D plays a major role in supporting immune cells and therefore your ability to fight infections. However, during the winter months in the UK, we don’t get enough vitamin D from the sunlight so most people here are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. The advice is to supplement during the winter months (3) (4)
I recommend that you see a GP or Nutritionist before you prescribe yourself with supplements as they will provide a blood test to find out your vitamin D levels in order that you take the correct dosage of supplemental vitamin D
3. Processed foods and sugar can weaken the immune system. So, instead, eat a healthy diet rich in whole foods including plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds which contain antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium which will all play a key role in supporting the immune system (5)
5. Manage the stress in your life since stress hormones suppress the immune system. Also, if you are feeling rundown, it can be harder to recover quickly and bugs just linger on! Learning to relax, saying ‘no’ to things and finding ways build your resilience are vital.