7 Tips To Boost Your Immunity
Did you know that it's the difference between whether your immune system is compromised or strong that results in us catching those nasty winter colds and flu?
With that motivation in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 7 key tools for you to boost a strong immune system going into Winter.
1. Eat Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods
Whole foods provide our immune system with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs for optimal function. Eating nutrient-rich whole foods that give you stable blood sugar levels is key to obtaining - and absorbing - as many essential nutrients as possible to support your body through winter.
In a nutshell, eat an abundance of fresh seasonal vegetables, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, soaked gluten-free whole grains and legumes while avoiding gluten, refined grains, refined sugars and highly processed vegetable oils.
2. Prioritise Sleep
Sleep is essential for our wellbeing, both mental and physical.
You know when you get sick, and you just want to sleep all day? That's your body trying to get you into a state where it can undertake repair processes to help you recover.
Routinely getting to bed by 10pm is a good way to keep our hormones in check - particularly the hormones that control our immune function.
A recent study by the Sleep Foundation found a direct link between lack of quality sleep and compromised immunity. If you aren’t sleeping well, you’re more likely to get sick.
The study looked at the white blood cell count (a marker of infection) in participants following 29 hours of wakefulness. It found that severe sleep loss jolts the immune system into action, reflecting the same type of immediate response shown during exposure to stress.
This means our body has to use vital nutrients to repair ourselves from the lack of sleep, instead of fighting foreign bugs.
3. Stay Hydrated
Our body is made up of 60% water, so making sure that you are getting optimal amounts of water is essential for feeling good with optimal wellness and immunity.
Water transports nutrients throughout the body, aids in digestion, regulates temperature, facilitates all pathways of detoxification, protects our joints, promotes healthy bowel movements, improves mental concentration and relieves fatigue.
All important for keeping your body flushed of toxins and healthy during the winter months.
How much water should you be drinking? This should be calculated according to your weight. To work this out the formula is: 0.033 litres per kg of body weight, which roughly equates to the following amounts:
60 kg = 2 litres
75 kg = 2.5 litres
90 kg= 3 litres
105 kg = 3.5 litres
4. Minimise Stress with Relaxation Techniques
Stress initiates coping responses in us. In ancestral times we would simply sleep and rest more. Now, we reach for stimulants to prop up our cortisol or sugar levels - caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar or grains.
Consuming these things occasionally is not a problem. But all these things place a load on our liver and affect our ability to store and absorb nutrients from our food which then impacts our immunity.
The harder you push your body and mind, the more stress you are under, the more vitamins and minerals your body uses. In times of stress, your body uses more B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc - just to name a few.
When it comes to diet and lifestyle there are a few key things to consider to reduce your stress levels and increase your immunity:
Try to maintain balanced blood sugar levels by eating a diet that is right for you and your unique body.
Set yourself up with a calming morning routine to ground you for the day.
Activate your rest and digestive nervous system before bed. You can do this with diaphragmatic breathing or putting your legs up the wall.
Reduce your intake of coffee. Aim for 1 cup per day before midday.
In times of chronic stress, it is helpful to take vitamin C to help support recovery along with a quality multivitamin.
Use calming essential oils and herbal teas such as lavender, chamomile, passionflower and oat straw. These all help to promote sleep.
5. Boost Your Nutrient Intake
Adequate nutrient levels are essential for a strong immune system. Here are a few key vitamins, minerals and nutrients that particularly support the immune system
Zinc: this acts as a cofactor in over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body - many of these are part of the immune function. Found in oysters, red meat, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Vitamin D: sometimes thought of almost as a hormone, it helps to control the immune response in the body. Found in sun exposure, oily fish like sardines, egg yolks and small amounts in mushrooms.
Vitamin C: master nutrient for supporting immune function. Found in capsicum and kale, and fruits like citrus kiwifruit, tomatoes, and berries (especially strawberries).
Selenium: vital mineral for building and fuelling the immune system. Found in brazil nuts, whole grains, turkey, chicken and fish.
EPA and DHA: these essential fatty acids work as anti-inflammatories in the body. Found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.
6. Add Bone Broth To Your Diet
Bone broth - or technically, stock - is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. It provides you with gelatin, glycine and protein to support your immunity via your gut and promote energy. The minerals in it support your body if you have any aches or pains.
Homemade, nutrient-dense bone broth is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. It is also wonderfully warming for the cooler months and adds a huge depth of flavour to soups, casseroles and curries.
7. Have Some Powerful Herbs Handy
When it comes to fighting ills and chills in the wintery months, having some powerful herbs on your side to kick sickness to the curb is one of the best things to have in your tool kit.
What herbs are best? Look for high dose echinacea root, holy basil, ginger and marshmallow root which are all incredibly powerful herbs that support keeping us well.