We are heading into cold and flu season and many people are suffering from the change in temperature and the relentless pace of life at this time of year. Although that bottle of immunity pills may promise you the world, you really need to be looking after your body using some basic immune- boosting steps to keep you healthy over the coming months.
For optimal functioning, the body needs a variety of nutrient dense foods every day to provide the body with sufficient nutrients to allow the immune response to happen. If we aren’t eating enough key nutrients, or enough food in general, then our body is unable to generate bug-fighting cells and we are at greater risk of getting sick.
Here are a few things to focus on to improve your immune system…
Watch your fluids
Dehydration is one of the most common reasons we can feel tired, run down and lethargic. When it comes to dealing with colds and flus - dehydration means that bugs are more likely to stick around and continue to make you feel sick. Congestion and runny noses along with a reduced fluid intake of fluid can make headaches and fevers worse, prolonging the effects of a cold. Even if you do not feel like it, if you are suffering from any cold like symptoms, or feel as if you are about to ‘come down’ with something you need to increase your intake of fluids.
While adults require at least 1.5-2 litres of fluid each day, if you have been hit with a bug increase this to 2-3 litres of fluid a day. Hot drinks like tea or herbal teas, sparkling water, or plain water with lemon all good choices.
Sleep is vital for repairing every aspect of our body and our immune system especially. Chronic sleep loss is associated with a suppressed immune system- so make sure to get atleast 7 hours of sleep each night!
Exercise directly boosts immunity by improving white cell function, lifting antibody levels, and helping to reduce stress hormones. Keeping active even as the mornings get darker and colder can be difficult- but find a time that works well for you to exercise, make sure your body is rugged up warm, and get your partner, a friend, or your kids to join you to make it more exciting. I personally love walking as a way to reduce stress and increase the feel-good endorphins and find that listening to a good podcast gives me a decent brain and body break at the same time!
Focus on nutrient rich eating
Although you might be craving more chocolate, cheesy pastas, or comforting home baking, these foods just don’t pack much of a nutrient punch for your immune system. Aim to include at least 16 different foods in your day in the form of different nuts, grains, seeds, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and protein foods. Protein is another important factor so make sure that even when you aren’t feeling well you are still eating some good protein in the form of yoghurt, eggs, nuts or nut butters, meat, seafood, chicken, or legumes.
Increase your antioxidant intake through foods such as spinach or kale, beetroot, green tea, broccoli, and berries to get your immune system functioning even better!
Include fats in your diet
Unsaturated fats are the commonly missed ingredient for an immune boosting diet. Fats are optimal for many functions in the body and are important not just for immunity but also for skin health, hormones, gut health, collagen production, and much more.
The type of fat is what's important- stay away from the white fat on meat, processed meats, bakery foods, and deep fryers- and instead increase your intake of extra virgin olive oil, salmon, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, or nut butters.
If you are a chronic sufferer of colds and flus then its possible that your diet needs a revamp. My women's wellness program covers not just weight loss but also focuses on improving our diet, sleep, stress and energy levels, gut health, and hormone balance. It gives you the tools for long term sustainable change so that you have the power and tools to eat well forever.