How to boost your immune system
The dreaded cold and flu season has commenced! Everyone in the office is coming down with a cold and we all want to try our best to avoid the inevitability of catching it.
Here are my top tips to boost your immune system this winter:
(On a side note, how annoying is it, when you actually do get ill and you are faced with comments like, “I bet you are ill because you are vegan!”) I will have you know, I can’t actually remember the last time I had a cold. HURRAH! Vegan power. Haha!
Even a gentle autumn stroll, admiring the beautiful coloured leaves will help boost your circulation and in turn allows cells to get to infections faster to fight infections.
Vitamin C is an obvious one when it comes to fighting off a cold! Our bodies cannot store vitamin C, so it is important to get a dose every day. You could start your day off with a warm cup of water with a slice of lemon. Other great sources of vitamin C are peppers, kiwis and broccoli. Vitamin C can help prevent you getting a cold and also reduce how long a cold will last!
It has been proven that if you take a zinc supplement within 24 hours of starting a cold, you can reduce your chances of still having a cold in 7 days by 50%!
Foods rich in zinc include chickpeas, kidney beans and seeds.
Why not try one of my chickpea recipes?
It is estimated that more than 6% of Brits experienced SAD last winter (seasonal affective disorder). This is where you feel less energetic and perhaps more moody as the seasons change. SAD has been linked to a lack of Vitamin D. This would make sense as we get our Vitamin D from sunlight.
If you can take a winter holiday, this would be perfect for topping up your vitamin D levels but if that is not possible, the government recommend supplementing during the winter months.
The top foods I would include in your winter diet are:
Garlic – garlic contains allicin, an active ingredient which fights colds. A study where 146 people ate garlic everyday for 3 months showed they were 63% less likely to catch a cold compared to the same amount of people who didn’t add garlic to their diet!
Oats – oats can help reduce inflammation within your body. They contain a fibre called beta- glucan which is known to fend off infection and bacteria.
Echinacea – Echinacea is a herb which fights off the symptoms of a cold. I love to drink Echinacea tea.
Try to avoid sugary foods if you have a cold, as sugar competes with vitamin C in the body and can also cause more inflammation.
Smoking impacts your lungs and therefore diverts the immune system from fighting against infection. Each cigarette you smoke is thought to remove 25mg of vitamin C from the body and we all know how important vitamin C is for fighting against a cold.
When you sleep, your immune system produces proteins called cytokines. When you are ill your body needs to produce more of these cytokines so it is important to have a good sleep routine during winter! Sleep deprivation can seriously impact your immune system.
Read my top tips for a good nights sleep here:
It goes without saying when we feel stressed we cause our body to feel run down! Try to take some time to relax, whether it is a hot bath, reading a new book or spending time with friends and family.
Wash and dry your hands properly. Sanitise shared items at work, for example keyboards and telephones. Make sure you dress warm for work and try to avoid colleagues who have a cold as much as you can.
When you drink alcohol, you slow down your whole body. This will mean your body is slower at fighting infection! Not only will this dehydrate you and make your hangover worse, it is important to stay hydrated to keep your immune system boosted.
Good luck in keeping the cold at bay this winter season!