Your winter preparation plan

Your winter preparation plan

Author -  Healtheries

5 tips to support your immune system as the colder season approaches

Winter’s just around the corner: does your immune system have enough support?

The night-time temperatures are plummeting, the skies are a patchwork of grey, and the trees outside have almost lost all their leaves. Yep, winter is definitely on its way. If you’re like many busy Kiwis, that can be a little worrying. After all, you’ve got a lot on your plate; and you just can’t afford to take time off. To help avoid unnecessary downtime, here are five tips that should help to keep your immune system and energy levels in top shape as winter approaches.

Put them into practice to support winter wellness throughout the whole season.  

  1. Eat dark green and brightly coloured veges and fruits each day
    The first place to start in any wellness plan is with your diet. Make sure you’re eating enough vegetables and fruit – nature’s nutrient powerhouses – each day; and include a wide range of bright colours and dark greens. Many of the pigments that give these foods their colours – including vitamins and other antioxidants – contribute to their immune supporting effects[1]. So by eating a good variety of colours, you’re helping your immune system to get the range of nutrients it needs.[d1]

  2. Cut back on alcohol intake from the summer months
    While the occasional mulled wine or hot toddy is fine during winter, too much alcohol can make things harder for your immune system. Excess alcohol can interfere with your ability to absorb important immunity-supporting nutrients. Plus, it can also actively get in the way of your white blood cells doing their job. Substituting alcoholic drinks for herbal teas, or either still or sparkling water will do your immune system a big favour. It will also help you to avoid the headaches and energy slumps of dehydration (which can happen when you spend time inside air-conditioned buildings).  

  3. Get the right amount of sleep for you
    As the days grow shorter, your body is likely to naturally want to sleep more. And now that the summer parties and socialising are over, it’s probably a good idea to let it. That’s because good sleep is a key factor in helping to maintain immune system health. Research shows that most adults need around 7-9 hours’ sleep each night[2], although different people might need more or less. So identify your “magic number”, and then make sure you actually get it each night.

  4. Stay active outdoors when you can
    Outdoor exercise combines two of nature’s greatest immune-boosters: getting active and sunlight, which helps your body to produce Vitamin D[3]. Just remember to dress for the conditions, and try not to overdo it – over-exercising can actually lower your immunity [d2]

  5. Top up your intake of immunity nutrients and herbs
    Vitamin C, Zinc, Garlic, and Echinacea are four of the best known immunity supporters. Vitamin C helps your white blood cells (a key part of your immune system) to do their job[4], while Zinc plays a wide range of immunity roles[5][d3]. Garlic and Echinacea have both been used for centuries in traditional medicine to support winter wellness. These herbs and nutrients aren’t a substitute for the other tips above – you still need to look after yourself! But taking them in addition to eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active may be just what your immune system needs to help keep you healthy this winter.  

[2] http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

[4] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

[5] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/68/2/447S.abstract [d1]

 
 
 
 
 

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