Winter Immune Tips



It's the time of year again when many people are snuffling, coughing and sneezing.  We're often tired at the end of the year and combine that with late nights, overindulgence and the stresses of getting Christmas organised...and we can often come a cropper to a seasonal bug.

Here are my top tips to have you fighting them off with a vengeance and staying healthy this festive time.

  1. Get creative with all the festive warming herbs and spices. Add ginger to your cooking and smoothies or even porridge (my personal favourite), sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on natural or coconut yoghurt and add a clove or 2 to soups and sweet mixtures. These all contain immune supporting properties.

  2. Where possible cook with alternatives to sugar. Molasses is rich in minerals, xylitol is anti-bacterial and good quality honey has plenty of anti-oxidants. Refined sugar leads to an inflammatory state and feeds any negative bacteria in your gut.

  3. If you feel a cold is coming on, have a teaspoon of turmeric and honey in coconut milk (warm) before you go to bed. Wonderful anti-viral properties. Normal milk might make you a bit more bunged up as it can produce mucus, which is why I advise coconut milk.

  4. Make sure you are getting at least 6 (preferably 8) portions of fruit and veg per day even amidst the treats and drinks! This will help provide you with nutrients your immune system demands. Make a smoothie to take with you for mid-morning. Spinach, pineapple,ginger and coconut water for example.

  5. Get your vitamin D levels tested. This is such an important immune vitamin as it helps to increase the flow of white blood cells to an infection. Supplement in winter! When I feel a cold coming on, I supplement with 5000 iu of emulsified vitamin D every couple of hours, along with 10 drops of echinacea...does the trick providing I rest as well.

  6. Look after your gut. 70 to 80% of your immune system is based in the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue) and this is dependent upon your gut bacteria. Foods like sugar, alcohol and refined carbs feed the negative bacteria and compromise your immune function. Provide the beneficial bacteria with substrate instead: many vegetables and fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, tempeh or kefir.

  7. Eat mushrooms: especially "exotic" ones such as shitake. As well as providing B vitamins, these contain beta-glucans, vital for immune function.

  8. Sleep! Most of us need 6 to 8 hours. Less than this and you are unlikely to be resting enough, leaving no time for repair and rejuvenation.

  9. Find some down time. If you are chronically stressed you may be over or under producing cortisol, a hormone involved in the stress response. Too much cortisol and immunity is dampened. Too little and ditto. It's all about balance.

  10. Laugh!! Research shows that laughter increases the mobilisation of white blood cells. Smile and you are half way there.