Key ways to manage your immune health this winter
It’s understandable that many of us associate sickness with the colder, darker days of winter. Many people believe cold weather means they’ll likely catch a cold unless they wrap up warm. In reality though, research suggests that more people get sick during winter because they actually spend more time indoors, avoiding the cold. This increased time indoors, often in close contact with others is how things like the common cold get passed around more quickly.
This year hasn’t exactly been easy, when it comes to not spending too much time indoors, and the lockdown has likely played havoc with many people’s immune systems. So, we wanted to bust some common misconceptions, by diving into some effective and preventative ways you can better manage your immune system during the holiday season.
Focus on managing your stress
One of the single, most important things you can do to help strengthen your immune system is to focus on avoiding as much stress as possible. Of course, this can often be easier said than done, but experiencing a lot of stress can really impact and weaken your immune system.
Stress leads to rapid wear and tear when it comes to your immune system, which increases the likelihood that you’ll become ill when exposed to germs. The holiday season can bring it’s fair share of stress, especially during these very different times. However, you can help to mitigate stress by keeping yourself fit, with regular exercise and keeping your mind fit too, by practicing mindfulness. However you calm your mind and whatever you do to help relax, make sure you work this into your weekly schedule.
Please prioritise your sleep time
Sleep is essential, but we’re not just talking for a few hours, you need to prioritise getting a good amount of good quality shut-eye each night. Your body repairs itself while you sleep, which is why it’s so crucial to make sure we’re getting enough.
Skipping regular sleep will reduce the number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells in your body. So, don’t eat too late, put the screens down earlier as these can disrupt your sleep time. Make time for your slumber, as this will give your immune system a huge boost and fighting chance over winter.
Support yourself with herbs & supplements
Supplements can actually be really helpful to give your body a little helping hand when you need it. Keep in mind though that a supplement can only really supplement an already healthy lifestyle.
Sleeping well and taking care of your stress levels will work wonders and they will always have more of a positive impact on your immune system than a supplement. However, we’ve got a few examples here that can help to give your immunity a little boost nonetheless:
- Reishi mushroom – can be a great way to give your immune system a lift, as mushrooms are widely used in Eastern medicine and have been known to act as a powerful immune sidekick. You can mix some high-quality reishi mushroom powder into your morning latte and enjoy!
- Echinacea – has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells in our bodies. These cells are critical to fighting off colds or infections. Try an herbal echinacea spray or a bag of tea that contains dried echinacea.
Fuel yourself with healthy foods
Of course having a healthy, well-balanced diet can really help you have the best fighting chance when it comes to protecting yourself against colds and infections during winter. Healthy foods are full of vitamins, which can help an infection from even happening in the first place.
If you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, then you should not need to take a supplement. This is because all the vitamins you need are already in the food you’re eating. Sure there’s plenty of tempting treat foods around this time of year, and we are not suggesting you don’t indulge. However, don’t completely stop your healthy lifestyle and diet completely over winter. You can still eat healthily in between your holiday season indulgences and you could always squeeze some workouts in there too.
Make sure you’re getting the following over winter:
- Vitamin D – because winter is a lot darker, you’ll get a lot less of this naturally, so it can be an important supplement to add to your regime.
- Vitamin C – is probably one of the most well known, and getting your dose of this from eating citrus (like oranges, grapefruit, or lemon), bell peppers, kale, and broccoli, is very much recommended.
- Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that can help your body fight infection. You can get it from nuts (like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts), avocados, mango, and kiwi.
- Zinc – is a very effective mineral when it comes to topping up your immune system and aiding your body’s ability to heal. You can find it in legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Make sure you don’t skip salads that are loaded with vitamin-filled vegetables. Drinking green juice can be really beneficial as well. If you simply don’t have time to cook or source the right healthy ingredients, we’ve got you covered – with nutritiously rich, tasty meals that can be delivered straight to your door.
Ensure you stay well hydrated
Water is always your friend, and by ensuring you stay hydrated, you’ll be greatly aiding your body when it comes to eliminating toxins and other unwanted bacteria. Drinking alcohol and sugary drinks is expected, especially over the holiday season, but these are no substitute for water.
If just drinking plain water isn’t really your thing, then try herbal teas or add flavourings to your water to make things more appealing.