Send the sniffles packing with our guide to feeling healthier in just a day
It’s amazing what a difference a day makes, and this can be the case for your immune system too. Follow this guide to be fighting fit for the season.
Drink up! “Rehydrating after you wake up is a great way to get your day off to a good start,” says Dr Jenna Macciochi. “Drinking will help with flushing the lymphatic system that transports lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. Unlike the blood circulation system, which uses the heart as a pump, the lymphatics is an open network of vessels, with no central pump, that helps maintain the water balance of the body and is responsible for removing waste products collected by your cells. The lymphatics also act as a drainage system, making it important to rehydrate after sleep.”
It can be tempting to reach for cold and flu tablets if you feel like you’re coming down with something but instead reach for essential nutrients. “Have some supplements, specifically zinc and vitamin C,” advises nutritionist and personal trainer Tess Glynne-Jones (thetessmethod.com). “Studies show that these two supplements help to decrease the longevity of colds and can help prevent them all together. Other supplements to consider are cod liver oil and vitamin D. These will help increase the body’s ability to fight inflammation, therefore reducing the onset of poor immune function.”
You may not feel like eating but food will give your body the fuel it needs. “The simplest way to take charge of your immune function is through healthy nutrition,” says Tess. “Fill your breakfast with good fats such as eggs, smoked salmon and avocado. These fats will help to prevent you from coming down with an illness.”
“Walking outdoors soothes the ‘fight or flight’ parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to reduce stress levels,” explains Tess. “Elevated levels of stress can reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection. Go for a stroll in a nice environment, and without music, to reap the full benefits.” If you don’t feel like going outside, make a conscious effort to keep active around the house. “Studies show that moving regularly throughout the day is much more beneficial than being sedentary,” adds Dr Jenna. “This benefits the immune system, as moving will pump lymphatic fluid around the body, helping your immune cells to carry out their function.”
“For lunch, try a nutritious soup of chicken broth, made with lean chicken, root vegetables and plenty of onions and garlic,” suggests medical herbalist Katherine Bellchambers (nottingham-herbalist.co.uk). “You can add turmeric and a handful of astragalus root during the cooking to add extra infection-fighting powers. Wash this down with a cup of green tea, as this includes lots of polyphenols to boost antioxidant activity. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, make a strong mushroom stock with seaweed and shiitake mushrooms.”
“Whether it’s as part of your lunch break or slightly later, try to head out into the sun when it’s at its strongest for 15 minutes,” says nutritional therapist and natural health expert, Rachel Kelly (natureprovides.com). “Vitamin D is incredibly important for maintaining a strong immune system, and many people aren’t getting enough sun to enable their bodies to produce the optimum amount. Studies show vitamin D has a key role in modulating innate immunity, thereby reducing your risk of infectious diseases. While sun exposure is by far the best way to naturally raise your vitamin D levels in the winter months you may want to turn to a supplement to get your fill.”
“At this time of day, there is a natural drop in our cortisol levels which can make us feel pretty lethargic,” explains Rachel. “This is a great time to take a break to boost your energy and mood. There are many wonderful and ancient supplements we can use to help with this, one of which is an often unheard of ayurvedic food supplement called shilajit. With a very long and safe history (but not to be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding), it has been used for centuries to support whole body and mind health, increase energy and even improve libido. When tested, shilajit was found to have both antiviral and antibacterial effects, as well as showing anti-cancer properties.”
“Try a salad rich in beetroot, pulses, vegetable sprouts and healthy proteins such as tofu, nuts, seeds, chicken or mushrooms,” recommends Katherine. “Dress with oil and vinegar to support the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.” If this isn’t to your taste, Dr Jenna shares her top nutritional tips for maintaining a good immune system: “Due to the high co-dependency between the microbiome and your immune system, you should aim to consume plant fibres from a variety of sources (chickpeas, beans, root vegetables) as this cultivates a diverse microbiome and allows them to produce gut healing short-chain fatty acids. Also, try to eat micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and polyphenols (plant-based chemicals that help your body to repair itself) as they can help to strengthen the gut and dampen post-prandial unruly inflammation.” Finally, aim to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. “Fresh turmeric, ginger and beetroot all have antiinflammatory and anti-viral properties,” adds Rachel. “Vitamin C foods, including kiwi, acerola cherries, kale and broccoli, also really boost your defences.”
“Use magnesium to relax tired muscles and help aid restful sleep,” recommends Dr Jenna. “Magnesium is essential for over 300 reactions in the body, including many vital functions of the immune system and protection from inflammatory stress. Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds are the best dietary source, but multiple studies demonstrate that even a healthy modern diet can precipitate a magnesium deficiency. Epsom salt baths are a great way to get your dose and taking a warm bath also helps with triggering sleep hormones such as melatonin.”
“Employ a tech curfew and get your bedroom in order,” says Dr Jenna. “Block out blue screen light by having a cut off point during which you no longer use electronic devices. It’s important to use evenings to unwind, as the stress hormone cortisol suppresses our immune defences.”
“Your immune system does its best work while you sleep,” advises Katherine. “Try not to go to bed any later than 11pm and aim for eight hours of restful sleep.”
Try the following products to help give your immune system a boost:
Think of fennel as a minder for your immune system. Naturally effective at fending off colds and the aches and pains that come with them. And while keeping bad at bay, this water’s naturally cleansing, liquorice flavour is one to be welcomed with open arms. Available at rosemarywater.com
Bee Prepared Immune Formula combines concentrated amounts of nutrients with proven benefits. It’s formulated by nutritionists and is helpful for colds, flu, hay fever and more. For more information visit: unbeelievablehealth.co.uk Find in health stores or Boots.
Add this high quality good bacteria supplement to your health routine, with vitamin C to help support your resistance to infection. For more information visit optibacprobiotics.co.uk
Fight colds and flu with new HRI Coldcare. A traditional herbal medicine with three times the immunity power from extracts of the potent Echinacea herb, plus 100% RDA of vitamin C and Zinc per dose. Available at Morrisons, ASDA, Sainsbury's, Superdrug and Holland & Barrett. RRP £7.99. For more information visit hriherbalmedicine.co.uk
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