Your immune system is complex and efficient, with an army of special cells to combat invaders like the cold or flu virus.
Keep your immunity army strong by following these tips:
1.Increase your vitamin and mineral intake
Many people take supplements as part of their daily regime, but we don’t absorb very much of these. Include more natural sources at every meal:
Vitamins and minerals
Some suggested sources
Vitamin A – Liver, eggs, salmon, mackerel, sweet potato, squash, kale.
Vitamin C – Oranges, kiwis, peppers, broccoli.
Vitamin D – Oily fish, eggs, meat, mushrooms, some fortified foods, e.g., non-dairy milk and yoghurt. Many studies suggest you should also take a daily supplement (10 micrograms) at this time of year.
Iron – Beef, apricots, almonds, spinach.
Zinc – Quorn, tofu, pulses, garlic, sardines, nuts and seeds.
2.Fatty acids (Omega-3s)
These have been found to have beneficial effects on the immune system and inflammatory response. Sources include mackerel, kippers, trout, salmon, whitebait, sardines, nuts and seeds, soya products and green leafy vegetables.
Some evidence shows probiotics, such as live yoghurt, can help the immune system.
New evidence suggests fermentable food is also beneficial, as the short-chain fatty acids released have a positive effect. Some fermentable foods include apple cider vinegar, garlic and onions.
4.Sleep (vitamin Zzz)
Lack of good quality sleep can lead to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, our immune system is suppressed.
Some experts say we should get more sleep in the winter. Cut out as much light pollution as possible, minimise artificial light, and cut back on TV and mobile device use before bed.
Stress can reduce how well the immune system works. Meditation has been shown to increase the number of T-cells in your body – these are the type of white blood cells that attack viruses and other pathogens invading the body.
Try a mindfulness smartphone app, such as HeadSpace or Smiling Mind, and practice on your commute or lunch break.
Water is the foundation of life! It transports nutrients in our blood, removes waste products from the body and prevents infections. Aim for at least 2.5 litres fluid per day.
Exercise can boost your immunity, but too much weakens it. Some research shows this can be due to too much adrenaline and cortisol suppressing the immune system.
Take a rest day in between each intense workout and liaise with your personal trainer for more information.