I’ve got five key tips to help you beat those nasty bugs that go around in Winter.
While what you eat can’t destroy the bugs floating around in the air, good nutrition and rest can help boost your immune system to help your body in combat and recovery.
I haven’t had a cold or flu in almost five years – it could be luck, but I’m sure all these things have helped!
1. Sunshine – Vitamin D is absolutely essential for a well functioning immune system. Studies have shown a link between people who have low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of getting the flu. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun (through a reaction that occurs when our bare skin is exposed to sunlight), so it’s much easier to get our requirements in Summer. When you’re inside all the time in Winter (especially at a desk job), it’s much harder to get the amount you need. Vitamin D is also linked to mood (with low levels being associated with depression) – so the ‘Winter blues’ are probably no coincidence! Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you think, so get out during your lunch break and get about 15-20 minutes of sun a day.
2. Chicken soup – It turns out that the old adage of treating a cold with chicken soup is more than just an old wives’ tale. In addition to providing good nutrition and hydration (you need to drink lots when you have the flu/cold), good old chicken soup also acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps relieve congestion because hot fluids help increase the movement of nasal mucus. Two of my favourite chicken soup recipes are my Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, and my Chicken, Silverbeet, Lemon and Parsley Soup – both will warm you up from the inside out, and provide you with lots of goodness!
3. Vitamin C rich fruit and veg
– There’s no need to buy supplements; you can get all the vitamin C you need easily and tastily from a few servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. As vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin (meaning we can’t store it long term) any excess above what our body can store (about 2000mg) will end up as bright coloured pee anyway. Adults need about 70-90mg of vitamin C a day (and children about 40-70mg), which just 1 kiwifruit or 1 orange will provide, however there’s no harm in having a few more servings for a buffer of course. Citrus fruit, kiwifruit, tamarillos and parsley are some of our best sources of vitamin C which has often made me wonder whether Mother Nature made these winter fruit! My green smoothie
will ensure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin C – add an extra kiwifruit or orange for good measure.
4. Sleep and alcohol – Getting enough good quality sleep is really important to ensure your immune system is working at its best and replenishing the ‘fighter cells’ that attack foreign invaders like flu and cold bugs. Sleep deprivation can lead to a suppressed immune system, so make sure you’re getting your eight hours. Alcohol is a stimulant and decreases the quality of your sleep – while you might think it helps you nod off at night, it interferes with reaching the REM sleep (the deep resting stage). So swap your evening glass of wine for a Chamomile tea!
5. Turmeric, ginger, garlic and manuka honey – these four ingredients are super stars for helping you keep in form! Turmeric has a high antioxidant content, is an anti-inflammatory and also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, thanks to its active compound Curcumin…I have it in my smoothie pretty much everyday! Manuka honey (especially that with a high UMF factor) has anti-bacterial properties. If I ever feel a sore throat coming on, I’ll swallow a teaspoon of manuka honey and it seems to keep it at bay!