Wow, we have hit winter – there was a definite temperature change this weekend! The days are lovely, but the mornings and evenings have definitely cooled down – we were pretty near a frost at our house this weekend!!
So, its time to start thinking about our immune system and with all the colds and flus that are starting to pop up at the moment, it’s a good time to think about what we can do to try and either miss the bugs or help to make it not too bad!
5 Winter Wellness Tips
The immune system is a complex network that works to keep us healthy – it is a barrier between our body and harmful intruders that can make you sick.
These tips are in no particular order … give them all ago!
- Get enough sleep – did you know that not enough sleep can affect our immune system? Studies show that if we don’t get a good quality sleep or don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to get sick – and it can affect how quickly we recover as well. Sleep deprivation and too much stress can increase how much of the hormone cortisol is made; and when we have increased levels of cortisol for a prolonged time, it suppresses immune function. So, it is best to ensure to always get the level of sleep that is needed … and if you are starting to feel a bit flu like, have an early night or two.
- Keep moving – it is tempting to hibernate and stay inside when it is cold … but, to stay well we need to keep moving. There are many reasons why exercise is important, and it is also good for our immunity. Keeping active is important for circulation and the lymphatic system – the lymphatic system needs movement to keep flowing. It looks after our immune cell responders; and allows for them to move freely around our whole body … which then makes sure they are alerted to any pathogens and toxins – and they can remove them from our system. Of course exercise is also going to help us sleep better and it will help to slow down the release of stress hormones too.
- Eat for wellness – what we choose to eat will make a difference … did you know that almost 80% of our immune system is in our gut? So, our gut is the gateway to health – focus on eating a wide variety of wholefoods, and limiting highly processed foods, this will help our immune system. Our immune system is more likely to be functioning at an optimal level if we choose to eat mostly vegetables and some fruit – these foods contain many immune-boosting nutrients … like vitamin C, B6, B12, beta carotene and D, plus minerals such as folate, zinc and iron. Also foods rich in probiotics or taking some probiotics to promote good bacteria in our body will assist our immune system. This makes fibre very important too, as the resistant starches found in fibre-rich plant foods are prebiotics – that provide food for the healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Lower stress – we all get stressed, small bursts of of stress may actually help your immune system! But, long-lasting stress hampers our immune system. It is important to look for ways to help our body produce lower levels of stress hormones, so that the immune system isn’t compromised. Positive thinking has a huge effect on health – so spend a few minutes daily to think of something to be thankful for; laughter also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cell function, so try to get an opportunity to laugh every day; and try some deep breathing … it will lower stress levels and help with sleep.
- Drink plenty of water – which helps in the production of lymph. Lymph is the fluid that carries immune white cells around our body to help fight the bacteria and viruses. Water also helps remove the toxins from the body, which can have a negative impact on our immune system. Try drinking herbal teas or popping some lemon slices in warm water to make water drinking more appealing in the cold weather!
We may need to boost our immune system – it may be in what we eat, in lifestyle choices or some herbs to take … I have herbs that are my favourites to use for me; but we are all different – so come along and visit me and we can put together a plan of action and a blend of herbs to help increase your immune function … that will suit you.