It’s here! The season of cough, sniffle, sneeze and the doona come coat (fashionable… of course) to avoid chances of aforementioned cough, sniffle and sneeze. If the months of winter are some you dread, then it’s time to get savvy on how you can boost your immune system, energy and mood so you can enjoy the season ahead. Get rugged up and read on friends…
Dive into the winter sun
Make the most of any and all sunshine where possible and soak up the beautiful Vitamin D to give our bodies a boost throughout the winter months. Vitamin D from the sun can help fight bacteria and viruses as well as strengthen the immune system. Aim for 10-15 minutes of sunshine in your lunch break and if you’re able, expose your stomach or back for optimum absorption.
Double up on immune boosting foods
There are so many great ways you can pack a heap of immune boosting ingredients into your meals and snacks throughout the day, but having them on hand to start is the key. Add these ingredients to your shopping list:
Ginger: pop it into tea infusions, stir fries, curries, soups
Garlic: hello garlicky-olive oil toast with avocado and eggs, and of course slow cooked meals, soups, dressings or straight up if you’re brave!
Citrus fruits: lemon, lime and grapefruit not only taste delicious but are chockers in Vitamin C so aim to include them in your diet through fresh juices, squeezed over salads, in water or enjoy grapefruit as a scrumptious immune boosting snack
Green and herbal tea infusions: are a fab way to swap another coffee in your day in favour of something that can up the antioxidants in your life as well as warm and hydrate the body all in one hit
Fermented foods and drinks: such as miso and kraut are delicious as part of your meal or sip on a brew of miso soup in between meals. AND if you need something fizzy, refreshing, jam packed with flavour and good nutrition then a fermented drink such as Remedy Kombucha Ginger Lemon ticks all the boxes for immune boosting ingredients with ginger, lemon, green tea, organic acids and live cultures from the slow fermentation process. Be it Ginger Lemon or any of the Remedy Kombucha range you’re guaranteed to get an immune lovin’ hit.
Green vegetables: broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, zucchini, Asian and bitter greens should pack the fridge drawer over these next few months and make up the bulk in most of your meals. Green vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals and aid the body’s natural detoxification pathways too. Check out the most delicious Gut Loving, Immune Boosting Green Soup recipe here.
Which truly sounds bizarre I know, but hear me out. Chasing the clock, overcommitting, having a list a mile long, juggling work and family and all sorts of other ‘must do’s’ in our day creates stress in our body. Stress weakens the immune system, increasing our risk of falling sick once exposed to bacteria or viruses lurking about. A simple practice for reducing stress in our body is to address it with rest. By rest, yes of course, aim for quality sleep and healthy sleep habits (e.g. not trying to sleep immediately after looking at social media or emails, darkening the room etc) but also aim to allocate anywhere between 5-15 minutes each day to ‘practice rest’, the rest where you let your body take time out and don’t actually sleep, but practice the gentle art of switching off – guilt free. Everything will be waiting for you when you finish resting, don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere, but your good health won’t be unless you alter your lifestyle. Pop your legs up the wall, move into child’s pose, lie flat on the ground at the end of the day and incorporate deep belly breaths, meditate, whatever feels right for you, but make the practice of rest a part of your day.
Increase your zinc
Zinc is an absolute powerhouse nutrient playing a role in hundreds of enzyme and biochemical pathways in our body, including those which pump up our immune system. Zinc rich foods are abundant and easily incorporated into the diet, so whilst you’re making your shopping list of immune boosting ingredients to add to your cooking repertoire, choose a selection of these zinc winners too – legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy such as full fat natural yoghurt, wholegrains, eggs, shellfish and red meat if that’s for you.
Aim for plant diversity in the diet
Try to increase the variety and number of plants in your diet each week or each fortnight even if just by one. Building a diet rich in plant foods and diverse in its sources can lead to greater diversity in the gut microbiome which is critical to the strength of your immune system. In nutrition we always say – EVERYTHING begins in the gut, so we need to give it the most love we can through our food. Whether it’s each week buying one extra plant based ingredient, even a new herb is great, or each fortnight, make it your mission to create as much variety in your diet through plants as you can.
This post originally appeared on Remedy Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill's Brown Paper Bag blog.