Are you surrounded by coughs and sniffles at this time of year? Follow the tips below to make sure that you keep your immune system strong this winter so that you can stay healthy throughout this season.
1. Get that Vitamin C in...and not just from oranges
Vitamin C is found in lots of fruits and vegetables, and it can help to fight off colds. You need at least 200mg per day to help your body fight colds. Usually when people think of vitamin C, the first thing that pops into mind is oranges. Yes, citrus fruit is a good source of vitamin C. But, it is important to remember that a variety of different fruits and vegetables is always best. So don’t just get stuck eating citrus fruit, thinking you can only get your vitamin C there. Other fruits and veggies that are high in vitamin C are: green, red and yellow peppers; broccoli; guava; and paw paw. And, of course a variety of citrus fruits is also great...alongside your oranges, try naartjies, clementines and grapefruit.
2. Look after your gut
There is a strong link between your gut health and the strength of your immune system. You need to have enough good bacteria in your gut to maintain a healthy immune system. The good bacteria are called Probiotics. You can ensure that your gut contains enough probiotics by eating foods high in probitoics, or you can take a probiotic supplement. Foods that are high in probiotics are: some yogurts that have added probiotics; kimchi (fermented Asian food); sauerkraut; kombutcha (fermented non-alcoholic drink). If you do not consume these items often (most of us don’t!) then you can take a probiotic supplement. To fight colds, the dose needs to be about 10 billion active probiotic cultures per day.
3. Keep moving
Regular exercise helps to keep your immune system strong. I know that in the cold weather the temptation is to just hibernate inside and stay warm. Sometimes getting into exercise clothes and braving the cold outdoors, or going to the gym in the cold and dark can be very difficult. But, it is WELL worth the effort. The hardest part about exercising in winter is getting off the couch, into your exercise clothes, and out the door! Once you are out there, it really is lovely. The cool air on your face is so refreshing, and you really will feel great afterwards. The endorphin rush (rush of ‘feel good’ hormones) after exercise will help to relieve any winter blues you may be experiencing.
4. Get enough shut-eye time
Lack of sleep is a sure way to weaken your immune system. Make sure that you get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep per night. You may not enjoy the fact that the sun goes down earlier in winter and rises later, but see this as an opportunity to enjoy some more shut-eye time. Your immune system will thank you for it.
5. Take a chill pill
When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones called cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones have a negative impact on your immune system. Make sure that you have good stress busting strategies in place, so that when the stresses of life come, you don’t get overwhelmed and de-railed by them. Some good stress busting practices to have in place are: learn to delegate; have good boundaries; make sure that you make time for yourself; spend time in prayer daily; eat balanced meals and snacks regularly throughout the day; get enough sleep; and exercise regularly.
Here’s to staying healthy this winter!