Your spring wellness guide with Annaliese Jones
NADIA’s resident wellness expert, Annaliese Jones, explains how to boost your immunity and steer clear of bugs this season
The joys of spring! Finally the temperature is rising, blue skies abound and we’re starting to come out of hibernation. But for many of us this new-found enthusiasm can be knocked back down by a change-of-season cold or flu. Just when you think you’ve said goodbye to the winter lurgies, you get laid low by a real doozy.
This is because the viruses that cause the common cold replicate more easily in spring weather – it’s still cold but not too cold. Also, by this time of year we’re often getting a bit run-down, which can lead to higher levels of stress hormones and, consequently, lowered immune function.
Good nutrition is your best ally in the fight against these springtime viruses and bacteria. The more nutrient-dense your diet, the better fuelled your immune system will be. Below is a guide to immunity-boosting foods – see how many you can pack into your day.
Did you know these beauties contain more vitamin C than oranges? Another fun fact is that we’re one of the few mammals that don’t manufacture our own vitamin C even though we need it to survive. Us, apes and guinea pigs! This means we must replenish our stores daily by eating vitamin C-rich food. Other great sources: broccoli, kiwifruit and papaya.
Nuts and seeds
Prized for their good oils and protein, nuts and seeds are also full of zinc, which is one of our best immune-boosters. Pumpkin seeds are especially abundant in zinc – ¼ cup a day should do the trick. I keep my nuts and seeds in the fridge to avoid them going rancid.
Leafy greens and red meat
One in 14 of us is low in iron and, even more alarmingly, 80 percent of toddlers fail to get enough daily iron. Iron often gets overlooked as an important immunity-strengthening nutrient, but without adequate levels it’s very hard to fight infections. At least a handful of greens daily and lean red meat a few times a week should supply plenty. Also, remember to avoid drinking tea, coffee or red wine close to the time you eat an iron-rich meal, as they deplete iron.
Crucial for good immune function and bone health, vitamin D is a common deficiency in nearly a third of Kiwis and Australians. Consuming oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel will top you up, as will eggs and liver (go on!). Additionally, getting enough sunshine is vital as a whopping 80 percent of our vitamin D needs are met by sunlight.
In summer, 15 minutes either before 10am or after 4pm should be enough, with double that in winter. Arms and legs need to be exposed (or roughly 30 percent of your body).
Is it really a cold?
I see a lot of clients towards the end of spring who think they’ve had a three-month cold. But instead of a virus or bacteria being to blame, we often find that spring pollens are the culprit. If your symptoms include watery or itchy eyes and lots of sneezing, and they last more than two weeks, it’s more likely to be allergies than a cold.
A strategy worth trying is to include local honey in your diet. If the hives are local to your area the honey will contain trace amounts of the pollens you’re reacting to. This exposes your immune system to the pollens and can desensitise it in a similar way to allergy immunotherapy (injections of minute amounts of the substance you’re allergic to). A tablespoon a day for a couple of months before the hay fever season starts can really help some people.
Annaliese Jones is a naturopath and medical herbalist with a Bachelor of Health Science and advanced double diplomas in naturopathy and herbal medicine. Naturalhealthcheckup.com
Photography by: John Paul Urizar/bauersyndication.com.au.