By IsoWhey Chef Janine Royce.
It’s about this time of the year when coughs and sneezes start around the office and comments like “my throat feels sore”, “my kid is sick again”, “how I can I boost my immunity?“, are abound.
As the weather gets cooler we spend more time indoors which means more time in closer contact with people AND potentially germs which can cause colds and flus.
With more than 200 viruses causing the common cold, these organisms thrive quite well in cold and dry conditions, meaning a better chance of them being passed around to everyone!
When our immune system is not operating at its peak we are less protected against these viruses and more susceptible to illness and infections.
SO what can we do to boost our immune system and keep these colds and flus away this winter and try not to get sick?
We can start by supporting the immune system with a healthy balance between diet and lifestyle:
Eat your “greens” – particularly those known as cruciferous, such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, rocket & watercress. Recent Australian research has found these leafy greens play a part in activating vital immune cells and protecting the body from infection from the “bad” bacteria. Watch my green winter soup video for a quick and delicious way to get those greens in here.
Cut out the sugar - we all know the evils of sugar and at this time when your immune system is low you don’t want to be weakening it further by fuelling your body with empty calories and feeding the bacteria, yeast and fungi which puts a stress on the digestive system by unbalancing your gut flora. At this time you need to be nurturing your digestive system with nourishing, healthy foods that are easy to digest and will give you energy.
Try adding in garlic, ginger and spices to your cooking - these are nature’s healers and have properties that make them antiviral, antiseptic & energising and can help with inflammation, and sweating out those cold & flus.
Reduce stress - When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off foreign bodies such as bacteria & viruses is reduced. Cortisol the stress hormone also reduces lymphocytes (immune white blood cells) which means you are more susceptible to illness and infection. Try to make time for yoga, massage & meditation to promote muscle relaxation and the natural unwinding of the stress response.
Get some sleep! - your body needs quality sleep. Lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick and also lower your levels of natural killer cells. Try to make time to create a bedtime routine. Getting enough sleep allows your body to cleanse, repair, heal, replenish and rejuvenate itself.
Keep exercise up – regular exercise provides a myriad of benefits such as controlling weight, improving mood and boosting energy, and can strengthen your heart, lungs, muscles and immune system to better equip you to defend against any infections and help you recover a lot quicker.
Keep up your protein shakes during the winter months as they can provide immune support. Whey is made up of bioactive fractions such as lactoferrin and immunoglobins which can protect against toxins, bacteria and viruses. Whey also contains key amino acids for glutathione production. The glutathione antioxidant system plays an important role in the maintenance of an effective immune system.
There are some key supplements that can be useful in conjunction with your healthy diet and lifestyle measures above, to boost your immune system and keep you strong during the cold and flu season. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner for help and advice.
Vitamin D3 - Increased levels protect against colds and flus as vitamin D3 has antimicrobial effects. In winter it is not always easy to keep levels up, due to less sunshine. Supplementing can ensure adequate levels.
Vitamin C - Regular daily use can protect against colds and flus and help shorten the time and severity of the cold.
Zinc - one of the most crucial nutrients for healthy immune function. Zinc can help shorten the effects of a cold.
Olive Leaf - It has been used traditionally to provide relief from coughs, sore throats and feverish conditions.
Probiotics - 80 percent of your immune system actually lies in your gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics can help bolster the gut wall protecting against invading bacteria and viruses and populate with the good bacteria to support healthy gut flora. This will protect against infections and are also recommended after a course of antibiotics ( which most doctors prescribe when you fall ill during winter).
Also washing your hands frequently can reduce your risk of catching a cold or flu by up to 50 per cent.
Here’s to good health during the winter months!