How to Boost Your Immune System
By Jessica Giljam-Brown
A guide to thriving this winter (rather than struggle and sniffle through it...)
Do you dread winter because you just know you will be sick every second week? Do you often complete a course of antibiotics to treat an infection, only for it to return a month later?
Recurrent colds, flus, ear infections, sinusitis, and throat aches needn't be your reality this winter. Find out how to supercharge your immune system to help keep you healthy this winter.
Immune system slacking off?
Several bad habits that busy babes tend to develop can severely diminish your immune function and make you more susceptible to getting sick; these include stress, a lack of regular exercise, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition. Frequent antibiotic use, which often goes hand in hand with repeated infections, can also contribute to lowered immunity.
This overuse of antibiotics can not only reduce their efficacy, but also unbalance the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, further compromising your immunity. Fortunately, there are natural treatments and diet changes available which can help to strengthen your immune system and keep you well for longer.
Natural immune boosters
Can you imagine a winter without sniffles and a sore throat? With the correct immune support, this could be a reality! Some of my favourite natural immune boosters are:
Coriolus: This medicinal mushroom increases the production of immune cells that help you fight off infections more effectively.
Reishi: Another medicinal mushroom which exerts potent antiviral activity to help you recover faster.
Garlic: Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and an immune booster. Add it into soups, stir fries, and salad dressings.
Ginger: Start adding ginger to all your meals, juices, and tea’s because this wonder has the ability to fight bacterial and viral infections.
Manuka Honey: New Zealand made and a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent. Try to buy a high quality, non heat treated Manuka honey. Add it to your porridge, smoothies, or enjoy on toast.
Vitamin D rich foods: Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. Vitamin D rich foods include oily fish, butter, and egg yolk. Next time you see your GP have them test your blood levels of vitamin D. Your GP can prescribe a vitamin D supplement if you are deficient.
Rest!: You may be surprised by how effective your immune system can be when you give it a chance. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep and let your body work its magic. Aim for 8 hours in the winter, and ensure you avoid caffeine after lunch time to optimise your sleep.
Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods contain abundant immune supportive vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and zinc. Sources of vitamin C include: red and yellow capsicum, citrus fruits (especially oranges), kiwi fruit, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and tomatoes. Zinc plays an important role during the initial stages of a viral or bacterial infection. Zinc deploys infection-fighting white blood cells to destroy it. Food sources of zinc include; seafood, meat, wheat germ, spinach, seeds, nuts, and beans.
Unwind. While it may be difficult to reduce stress in your life, it is possible to manage stress more effectively. Participate in yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises 3 to 4 times a week, or as often as needed.
If recurrent infections or low mood in winter are an issue for you, then speak with me about support to help you have a healthy and enjoyable winter rather than one you dread.
BY JESSICA GILJAM-BROWN (WELLNESS BY JESSICA)
Jessica is a nutritionist who uses evidence-based science to design treatment, and offer education and guidance on how to heal your body through food, nutritional medicine and positive lifestyle changes.