How to naturally support your immune system this Winter
As we head into winter, we all know that keeping your immune system robust and in top shape is the best way to avoid ills and chills, infections and viruses over the winter months. But how do you truly know how well your immune system is doing on a day-to-day basis? Indicators such as our energy levels, and sense of general wellbeing gives us a clue.
Feeling unwell is the first sign that something’s up and despite how you're feeling, your immune system is working to resolve your symptoms. Take a fever for example, this is an obvious sign that your immune system has kicked into gear and is trying to “burn off’ unwanted invaders.
Your immune system operates 24/7 behind the scenes to help repair and rebalance your body systems using a complex network of chemicals, cells, antibodies and organs to protect you from bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses. This process requires a lot of resources, drawing on increasing amounts of your nutrients stores to keep it going, and when they become sufficiently depleted, you’re risk of illness climbs. Combine this with things like working too long hours, prolonged stressed, sleep deficiency, or eating badly and you’re risk of illness goes up even more.
When your cells are exposed to oxidative stress caused by things like pollution, smoking, alcohol, chemical exposure, and a diet high in fats, sugar and processed foods, your immune system kicks into gear and starts drawing on antioxidants like vitamin C. When oxidative stress is prolonged or occurs in tandem with other factors like stress, fatigue, and even healthy exercise, demand for vitamin C increases and continues until balance is restored. Stored in high amounts in white blood cells (leukocytes), the pituitary gland, the brain, eyes and adrenal glands, they relinquish their vitamin C resources as needed. This can make it difficult for your body to keep up with demand.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant effect is highly valued alongside its immune supportive benefits, but did you know that Vitamin C also plays an important role as a cofactor in collagen production – giving it tissue repair and wound healing qualities, not to mention anti-aging benefits. Vitamin C also supports healthy mucus membrane function (e.g the nose, mouth and lungs) which are typically affected with winter related illnesses.
Moving on from Vitamin C here’s some ideas to support your immune system ahead of the Winter months – good to do this in Autumn when lower temperatures signal Winter is in its way.
- Eat to build your nutrients stores. Foods that contain a complex of nutrients include bone broths, fermented foods as condiments, smoothies, soups, raw fruits and vege’s, and stews.
- Eat foods high in antioxidants like vitamin C, A, E, Zinc and selenium. Eat them raw as much as possible.
- Avoid foods that you are intolerant too. Eating them will activate your immune system unnecessarily
- Eliminate empty calorie foods – these have little nutritional value and are heavily processed
- Eliminate high acid forming foods that deplete nutrient stores e.g. refined sugar, alcohol, coffee, fast foods, carbonated drinks
- Optimise you gut health and digestion – eat raw fruits and veges high in fibre, enzymes and antioxidants
- When daylight savings changes hit, adapt your routine right away
- Do an honest review of your work/life balance and modify where things might have as slipped
- Check your stress - rate it on a scale of 1 (none) -10 (extreme) every day for a month if you need too, to have a clear picture. Or ask someone who sees you regularly to give you an objective opinion on how stressed they see you.
- Sleep - get plenty. Sleep is a critical time for healing and repair which our immune system is heavily involved in.
- If you’re taking any supplements review your regime so it meets the demands of winter and switch or add in what you need. Building your immune strength prior can help to prevent you from succumbing to illness when others have.
- Probiotic 14 Strains – broad spectrum shelf stable formula to help support healthy microbiome balance - important since 70%-80% of your immune system lies in the gut as well
- Probiotics Mood + Immune - is a unique blend of 4 specific strains of beneficial bacteria, plus prebiotics, designed to restore your gut health, support healthy mood balance + immunity.
- Vitamin C Acerola – is a highly bioavailable natural vitamin C that supports immune function, mucus membrane health and tissue repair
- Astazan Antioxidant – supports a healthy response to oxidative stress
Energy and nutrients stores support:
- Spirulina – rich in vitamin, minerals and antioxidants, a great for additional nutrient intake
- Super Alkalise – nutrient rich, alkalising greens to optimise healthy immune system