Winter is on its way, and many of us are thinking about ways to stay healthy. Here we take a look at some of the best and easiest ways to give your immune system a boost this winter.
Why your immune system needs a boost
Boosting your immunity in winter is particularly important, as you are much more likely to become ill during the cold weather – your chance of catching a cold increases by 80 percent in winter compared to any other time of year.
In addition, many of the illnesses that you are likely to suffer from in winter, such as colds and flu, are viral infections, so antibiotics won’t cure them. Your body has to fight them off in its own time, which is why it’s vital that your immune system is strong and prepared.
Eating the Right Foods
The food you eat has a direct impact on the health of your body and the strength of your immune system. It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet if you want to keep your immunity at its peak. Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and protein will all have a positive effect on your immune system, but even within these groups, some foods are more beneficial than others.
- Broccoli is packed with a variety of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Garlic has been recognised for its ability to help the body fight off infections since ancient times. It is also thought to lower blood pressure.
- Ginger helps to decrease inflammation, so it’s particularly good for sore throats.
- Probiotic yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, contains live active cultures which can help to stimulate the immune system.
- Nuts, particularly almonds, are known to contain vital immune-boosting vitamins.
Making sure you include these superfoods in your diet will increase your chances of staying healthy during the winter.
Even if you eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, sometimes your body can still be lacking in the essential vitamins and minerals it needs in order to stay healthy. It may be worth supplementing your diet to boost these particular elements if you want to make sure your immune system is as strong as possible.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps to keep the body’s cells healthy and heal wounds. Your body can’t produce or store it, so it’s vital that you get a daily intake. It can be found in citrus fruits, particularly oranges, and red bell peppers, but many people need to supplement their Vitamin C levels.
- Vitamin D3 is the essential ingredient which our bodies convert into the active form of Vitamin D. It is produced naturally in the body when our skin absorbs sunlight, but even in sunny climates, most people cannot produce enough Vitamin D without supplements. Vitamin D has a variety of important health benefits. It boosts the immune system, improves the functions of the brain, heart and lungs, and helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Studies have shown that children given Vitamin D supplements during the winter were up to 40 percent less likely to catch the flu.
- Magnesium is found naturally in our bones, muscles and soft tissues, but we generally need more of it than we can produce. Magnesium helps to maintain a healthy heart and strong bones, as well as regulating the metabolism and nervous system. It is also thought to help with anxiety, which can also affect the immune system.
- Zinc is a mineral that boosts the growth of our immune cells. It is also important for healthy hair, nails and skin, so it can keep you looking good even when you’re feeling bad!
Visit a Nutritionist
We all know the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, but many of us don’t know exactly what to eat in order to achieve it. This is where a nutritionist comes in. A good nutritionist will know the effects of each type of food on the body, and will stay up-to-date with the latest research. They will usually ask you to complete a health questionnaire and keep a food diary in the run-up to your consultation. This information will allow them to tailor a healthy eating program just for you.
They say you are what you eat, and there’s a large amount of truth in that. Stay well this winter by making sure you’re getting the right amounts of all the essential vitamins and minerals you need.
Image from Pixabay
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