With all that has happened in recent times related to Covid 19 our awareness and concerns around Immunity are higher than they have ever been. And, with the onset of winter, it’s natural for us all to look for ways to boost our immune systems and keep ourselves healthy over the colder months. So, here are our five top tips to support yourself naturally, and stay well, throughout the winter.
Food is one major way to protect your health this winter. Every meal and snack is important as to how your body fights disease.
Eliminate refined sugars – Refined sugars decrease the function of the immune system as they create spikes and dips in blood sugar which creates stress on the body and weakens immune function. Refined sugars also rob the body of vital nutrients as they take a considerable amount of nutrients to process, yet they do not provide any nutritional value except empty calories.
Eat a fibre rich diet – Fibre is essential food for the probiotics in your gut. Over 70% of your immune system originates from your gut, and probiotics have a major involvement in this, so it is worth focusing on gut health. Fibre also promotes normal bowel movements which help to remove toxins away from the body.
Consume something raw with each meal – It can be easy to forget raw foods in winter, but they are important to health. Raw vegetables and fruits contain vitamin C, and other vitamins which are destroyed by heat. These vitamins are essential for the proper function of the immune system. An easy way to eat raw food in winter is to have a side salad with every meal and finish off with a piece of fruit.
Eat a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein – Eating this combination helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, which minimises the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol reduces immune function. Keeping blood sugar levels balanced also helps to prevent sugar cravings.
Gentle exercise is another great way to protect your immune system.
Exercise in nature – when exercising in nature, you inhale a chemical called phytoncides. These are chemicals that plants release to help protect them from disease. Once inhaled into the human body they have a positive affect by reducing the level of cortisol – the stress hormone. Phytoncides also improve the function of the immune system, helping to keep you well.
Meditative exercise (yoga and tai chi) – Meditative exercise such as yoga and tai chi actively decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Excess cortisol is detrimental to the function of the immune system. Long term practice of yoga and tai chi rewire the brain to deal with stressful situations and instils a sense of calm in the mind of the individual.
Exercising in the (limited) sunlight – Although sunlight is limited in winter, it is still there. If you can, exercise at midday when the sun is at its strongest, and if its not too chilly, expose some of your skin such as your face and arms. This will allow for some vitamin D production which is essential for the immune system. Sunlight is also anti-microbial, so it is worth getting as much as you can.
Self-care is essential for the health and wellness of the mind and body and can help keep you well.
Relaxation techniques – Relaxation techniques such as a soak in the bath, a massage or simply doing breathing exercises lowers the level of cortisol in the body, thus promoting immune function.
Find a hobby – Although not directly related to the immune system, a hobby can both relax you, provide a sense of fulfilment and purpose. These emotions do have an active role in promoting a normal immune system function.
Socialise – Socialising is actually very important. When we are in contact with other people, we share their microbiome. Although it might not seem nice to share germs with others, it is actually necessary for the normal function of the immune system. Your microbiome (the bacteria and other organisms) isn’t just on your skin, it’s floating around your skin. Therefore, just by sitting next to someone else, you are sharing bacteria and promoting normal immunity.
Supplementing with the right nutrients is a great way to optimise nutrition intake. It can be hard to get all the nutrition you need every day from diet alone. Supplements can act as an insurance policy to ensure you are not missing out.
Birch & Wilde Immunity Complex – Birch and Wilde Immunity Complex provides a range of vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, probiotics and additional factors to support you through the winter.
Rosehip extract contains bioflavonoids which work directly with the citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C to enhance its absorption and function. Ginger extracts have a wealth of research behind them for their ability to support the body through viral infections. Resveratrol and grapeseed extract are known for their free-radical scavenging effects and help to protect and preserve the function of immune cells. Zinc, Iron, selenium and Copper work directly with the immune cells.
Without these essential minerals, immune cells cannot function. Probiotics are also a vital part of the immune system. The gut is responsible for over 70% of the immune system so they are a great addition to an immune complex.
B VITAMINS FOR WINTER WELLNESS
B vitamins are essential for staying well in the winter. They are required for many functions in the body and especially important for energy production.
Regulating sleep patterns in the darker months – Your circadian rhythm is your sleep and wake pattern. Many people find that it changes during the winter due to the lack of sunlight. B vitamins are essential for the hormones that regulate sleep pattern and sleep quality. Good sleep quality is essential to daytime energy and vitality.
Keeping a happy mood in the absence of sunlight – During the darker months, some individuals find it harder to make serotonin – the happy hormone. Serotonin motivates as well as providing energy and good moods. B vitamins are needed for the production of serotonin and may be useful in the dark winter months.
Energy production – B vitamins are needed directly for the energy production cycle, know as the Krebs cycle. The addition of B vitamins to the diet can make a noticeable difference to energy levels and vitality.
Stress support – Feeling stressed can leave you mentally and physically tired and drained. The production of stress hormones requires B vitamins. So, in times of stress, these B vitamins may be used up on stress hormones, leaving little for energy production. Taking B vitamins not only helps you deal with stress, but also helps to preserve energy and mental function in those stressful periods.
Your stress hormone (cortisol) levels can also be supported by taking an organic ashwagandha supplement. Ashwagandha is a plant based adaptogenic supplement that helps your own body to moderate it's response to stressors and maintain healthy cortisol levels.