We have headed into a change of seasons – this means people will be catching more colds, transitioning from the winter months spent indoors to spring days outside and slowly recovering from sunless-ness. Preserving and improving your nutritional status is vital if you want to obtain and maintain a strong immune system.
“Let food be thy medicine”, is something I strongly believe in. Food has the ability to help support our body’s needs through times when common illnesses start to sneak up on us.
Our immune system needs a lot of support from our nutrition and there are nutrients we require specifically for our immunity. These include vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc most importantly. Consuming foods rich in these nutrients is the best place to start. Diet is a huge component but a diet to be effective must develop its way into our lifestyles. There are many healthy living strategies you can integrate into your daily routine to lessen your chances of feeling under the weather.
Here are five ways to boost your immune system, fight the sniffles and feel your best!1. Consume a nutrient rich wholefood diet
If you can do only one thing on this list: Just eat real whole foods!
Lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and legumes should be the biggest contributors to your daily diet. These will provide you with ample nutrients from a variety of amazing ingredients.
Vitamin C has long been correlated with stronger immune function, so keep eating those fruits high in vitamin C, like Camu Camu, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, berries, broccoli, and leafy greens.
Vitamin D deficiency can increase our susceptibility to infection. It’s can be quite challenging to enough Vitamin D during the winter months. Foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms, fish, and dairy products contain some vitamin D, however the best source is the sun. Try to get exposure daily when possible to boost your vitamin D levels.
Zinc is a nutrient that is found sparsely in New Zealand soil because of this it’s important to regularly eat foods rich in Zinc. It is one of the most important minerals for immune function. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sea food and spinach, to name a few, are foods rich in Zinc2. Feed your gut good bacteria
Consume friendly bacteria in your foods. 70-80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system. Beneficial micro-organisms settle in our intestinal, upper respiratory and lower urinary tracts. Friendly bacteria out-compete the ‘bad guys’ and improve immune function. Probiotics are a great way to go, otherwise consume whole and fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi or miso.3. Manage your stress levels
Stress puts a lot of pressure on our adrenal glands, forcing them to pump out stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin), which weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infection. Finding ways to de-stress daily is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy immune system. Diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, mindfulness techniques, yoga are some great options which are very effective. It doesn’t have to be long, it’s about your own personal journey so find something that works for you. A few minutes a day is all you need.4. Focus on restorative sleep
This is a must! Sleep deprivation activates our stress responses, supressing immune function and elevating inflammatory chemicals. Tune in and listen to your body. When you feel like you could use an extra hour to rest, take it! Make sure you get a solid 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night, it’s essential to preventing a cold or the flu.5. Move your body daily
Exercise is a powerful tool for keeping the flu at bay. Exercise enhances immune function. Just 30 minutes a day helps strengthen your virus-destroying T-cells (a type of white blood cell known to guard the body against infection) and antibody response. It’s really important to understand what type of exercise works for you, a brisk walk, a run or even a stroll. Any exercise is good exercise!
A SuperMe Reminder
Don’t forget to laugh and have fun! Laughing decreases the amount of stress hormones in our bodies, and smiling makes your body think it’s happy; which can in effect boost our mood and immunity! It’s so important to take some time out for yourself to stay healthy and enjoy life.