Winter doesn’t have to be a time of constant coughs, colds and ear infections. With a few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle it is possible to avoid the bugs that are rife during the winter. Our immune system is designed to protect us from these bugs but it needs to be fuelled well to be as strong as possible. With a strong immune system you will be well equipped to avoid many infections all together and if one does slip through you will recover from it quicker.
Here are my 5 naturopathic tips for staying healthy during the winter
- Nourish with Nutrients
Food does not necessarily equate to nutrients, if fact many of the foods that line the supermarket shelves are so low in nutrition they shouldn’t even be called food! Our immune system is fuelled by nutrients found in fresh, whole foods so packing as much of this nutrient dense food into our diet as we can makes sense.
- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, kiwi fruit, baby spinach, beetroot and sweet potato to boost your antioxidant levels including vitamin A,E,C, and Zinc.
- Superfoods such as Goji berries, camu camu, raw cacao, turmeric, garlic and ginger, which all add power to our immune system.
- Smoothies are a great snack idea and you can pack in as many of these brightly coloured fruits, vegetables and superfoods into the blender as possible.
- Organic produce as it is higher in these immune boosting antioxidants.
- Safeguard your Gut
Science has established a strong link between our gut and immune system, in fact around 80% of our immune system is located in our gut! Bloating, constipation, heartburn or IBS type symptoms are all signs your gut needs some attention and your immune system is probably not in optimum health either.
The number of bacteria we have in our bodies outnumbers our cells so you could argue we are more bacteria than ourselves! It is when the ‘good and bad’ bacteria become unbalanced that we can experience both digestive upset and lowered immunity.
There are many things in our modern lifestyles that contribute to this imbalance including sugar and processed foods, study and social stress, antibiotics and other medications.
To boost the levels of beneficial bacteria try adding
- Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kombucha and sauerkraut to the diet.
- You could also try a good quality probiotic supplement.
- Knock back some broth
There is nothing better than a bowl of steaming chicken soup when we are sick and there is good reason for that. Chicken broth, made with free range chicken and simmered on a low temperature all day (or even overnight), is of course good for our soul but it is also tremendously nourishing for our bodies. Bone broths contain ample amounts of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. They contain gelatine which aids digestion and improves immunity.
Bone broths are a great staple to have on hand in winter, they make delicious bases for soups, sauces, slow cooked meals and casseroles and eliminate the need for commercial stocks in carton or powdered forms which usually have undesirable ingredients. You can make a big batch and freeze so there is always some on hand.
- Snub the sugar
Sugar can be likened to a ‘chill pill’ for the immune system, it reduces the activity of white blood cells making them so relaxed that they don’t have the energy to fight the viruses and bacteria that are all around us in winter, to so we get sick more often.
Avoiding sugar involves more than just avoiding adding it to your tea, coffee and breakfast cereal. Almost every food in a packet will have some form of sugar added to it – cane sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, corn syrup and so on! The best way to avoid excess sugar in your diet is to eat more Real food! Real food is food as were meant to eat it, straight from plants or animals as close to its natural state as possible. Real food includes vegetables, fruit, salad, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, fish and meat.
- Soak up the Sunshine
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for our immune system and we can soak it up through the sun. Sounds easy when we live in one of the sunniest countries in the world but Vitamin D deficiency is a major health concern, particularly in the winter months. Try and get outside in the midday sun every day. Go for a walk or simply sit outside to eat your lunch. Expose some skin – roll your jumper sleeves up, take off your sunglasses, take your scarf off.
Taking on board all of these health tips will be sure to keep your household lurgy free this winter and if you are still unlucky enough to pick something up you will shake it off in no time.
Article submitted by Jessica Donovan of Energetic Mama
Jessica created an ebook – ‘5 food secrets of kids that rarely get sick’ to help parents boost their kids immune system with real food. You can download your free copy here http://energeticmama.com/5foodsecrets-nsk2