Laura Thompson is a local Nutritional Therapist, Acupuncturist and creator of the Healthy Gut Plan, offering advice on a range of health issues
Winter is fast approaching with the days getting shorter and temperatures starting to fall. So what can we do to prepare ourselves ?
Firstly our immune systems are under more pressure in the winter. We are often stuck in overheated offices with several other colleagues making the spread of germs and viruses inevitable.
Taking care of your immune system is a lot easier than you think. Here are my top tips:
1. Up your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis and blackcurrants are high in vitamin C. Bell peppers, broccoli and spinach all great for the immune system.
2. Warm up those winter days by including plenty of nourishing soups and broths, particularly bone broths, which are great for the joints as well.
3. Add lots of garlic to your food it is great for a number of ailments but also boosts the immune system. It is a great decongestant for those who suffer from sinus and lung conditions.
4. Include plenty of good fats ,oily fish, nuts , seeds and avocados. Fats are great for the winter but be sure to keep saturated fats to a minimum.
5. Ginger is fantastic for circulation and is a natural anti inflammatory. Drinking ginger tea or just using it in cooking is a great boost to the immune system and adds great flavour to food.
6. Turmeric, you might be familiar with this as a key ingredient in curries but this yellow spice has amazing healing properties. It is great for all types of inflammatory conditions such as Arthritis.
7. Green leafy vegetables rich in folates are so nutrious and supercharged with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and E. The key to keeping all these vitamins intact is not to overcook.
8. Green Tea: Ditch the black stuff and try to consume more green. Where green tea excels is in its levels of Epigallocatechin Gallate or EGCG. This has been shown to enhance immune function. It also contains the amino acid L – theanine, which may be an aid in the production of germ fighting compounds in your T-cells.
A healthy diet is important but some simple lifestyle changes will help also:
1. Exercise regularly especially getting some fresh air.
2. Minimise stress and get adequate sleep and rest.
3. Proper handwashing and hygiene, and disposal of used tissues is important.
4. Ensure adequate ventilation, changing the air regularly.
Supplements are a good way of boosting your immune system:
1. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and therefore not stored in the body, meaning that we need regular amounts. Taking 1000 mg a day is a great way to prevent and shorten a cold. If you have an inflamed digestive system, then take a supplement called Ester C as it is gentle on the stomach.
2. Vitamin D has had a lot of press lately and rightly so. It has amazing anti-viral properties and helps boost the mood, preventing those winter blues. It’s called the sunshine vitamin as we get it from our exposure to sunlight. Many of us are suffering from vitamin D deficiency so it’s a good one for the winter.
3. Zinc is also a great mineral helping the healing process, but is great for throat and mucous membranes.
4. Herbs like Echinacea, sage, elderflower, thyme and ashwagandha are all great for boosting immunity, but always check with your doctor before taking if you are taking prescribed medication.
Finally, if you suffer from low moods in the winter it maybe a condition called SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorde. Try to get out into the daylight as much as possible. Position you chair as close to the window as possible or purchase a light box. These boxes omit artificial light which mimics daylight and have been shown to improve mood and sleep.
Finally, snuggle up with a nice warm fire and enjoy the long evenings, seeing them as a chance to relax.