Having succumbed to the latest ‘lurgy’ on Boxing Day, today’s post is all about boosting defences to increase your overall level of health and vitality to fight any winter virus that comes your way.
- Look after your gut. The microbiome (populations of good and bad bacteria and yeasts in our gut) provides the foundations of our immune system. Having adequate ‘good’ gut flora is the best defence against external pathogens, such as seasonal viruses. Keep your levels topped up with daily servings of fermented food and drinks, such as sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. Taking a good quality multi-strain probiotic supplement can also help.
- Keep tabs on your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D3 helps regulate the immune system. Unfortunately, in the UK we can only obtain adequate levels of Vitamin D from the sun between April and September so our levels often dwindle during autumn and winter. In terms of food, oily fish, grass-fed meat and organic eggs can provide some but an additional D3 supplement may be needed, especially if you follow a vegan diet. Please have levels checked before supplementing.
- Zinc and Vitamin C are essential components of our immune cell response. Vitamin C is readily available in fruit and green veg but levels are quickly depleted by cooking and long-term storage. Zinc is found in meat, liver, seafood, and nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds.
- Avoid sugar. Not only does sugar suppress our immunity but it also feeds bacteria, viruses and fungus and promotes mucous production, thereby prolonging an infection.
- Garlic is antimicrobial and ginger is anti-inflammatory. Add them both to soups or make a fresh ginger root tea with lemon.
- Additional immune-boosting herbs to consider: elderberry, echinacea, olive leaf, oregano.
- Address stress. Feeling stressed has a hugely debilitating effect on our immune function, so be sure to nurture yourself: get some fresh air, exercise and fun every day!
And on that note, it’s off for some fresh air for me. Have a very happy and healthy New Year!