Stay well this winter
Winter is well and truly here, and the flu season is upon us. It goes without saying that eating a well balanced diet can help to keep you well. However, if this flu season is anything like the last, then we can definitely benefit from a little extra immune boost.
These are my top tips for boosting your immunity and staying well this winter.
Look after your gut health
The health of your gut plays a big role in your immune system.
Maintaining the balance of good bacteria in your gut can help to support the strength of your immune system. Include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, beans and lentils in your diet everyday.
Probiotics are the living bacteria that are present in the gut. They can help to restore the balance of good bacteria, maintain gastrointestinal function and boost your immune system. The easiest way to incorporate probiotics regularly is by eating a good quality probiotic yoghurt (for example Jalna Biodynamic Organic Yoghurt). Fermented foods such as kombucha, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi may also provide similar benefits.
For some people, a probiotic supplement may be beneficial in helping to boost the probiotics you are getting. I would suggest checking in with your GP or Dietitian to find a probiotic that is best suited to you.
Love your fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre that help to keep your body functioning optimally. But when the weather gets cooler, I often hear clients say that they find it more challenging to meet their fruit and vegetable requirements.
Warmer meals are much more appetising and easier to digest in the cold months. Try slow cooked casseroles, stews and hearty soups packed with plenty of coloured vegetables. The more colours you include, the bigger array of nutrients you will get. Aim to eat the rainbow.
Choose fruits that are in season as they are rich in nutrients and very cost effective. In Australia, some of the best winter fruits include oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, apples and strawberries. To keep your fruit intake up in the cooler months, I’d suggest adding fruit to your morning porridge, stew fruit and serve with yoghurt, and include fruit as a snack.
Poor sleep can have detrimental effects on your immune system, making you more susceptible to the dreaded cold or flu. Research shows that those who don’t get good quality sleep or enough sleep, are more likely to get sick when exposed to a bacteria or virus.
Practice sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. This helps to get your body in a good routine and you are more likely to get enough sleep.
It todays tech-savvy world, it can be difficult to switch off from our devices. Aim to stop using your phone, computer and television an hour before going to bed. If you find this challenging, start by switching your phone to night mode (a warmer light that can reduce blue light exposure and help you to get a better nights sleep).
Establishing an evening routine may also help to support you in getting a good nights sleep. This may be anything from a warm shower, moisturising your skin, reading a book or spraying lavender oil in your pillow. It’s about finding what works for you and what will best support you to sleep well.
Practice good hygiene
Did you know that the most common infectious diseases are spread by nasty bags from your hands? Practising good hygiene can help to stop the spread of germs and prevent you from getting unwell.
Always wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after you handle and eat food. Keep a small hand sanitiser in your bag for the instances when you may not have access to hand washing facilities. Avoid sharing food, cutlery or water bottles with someone who isn’t well.
If you feel like you are getting unwell, check in with your GP, Dietitian or Pharmacist. There are a number of supplements that may be effective in reducing the severity and symptoms of the common cold and flu.