Beating the Winter Blues
I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t enjoy the months of May – September with the cooler temperatures and that biting chill in the air. We associate illnesses with these months, and with the additional stresses of our busy lives our immune system gets compromised, leading to many of us experiencing some sort of a cold, cough or sniffle during this time.
Although we would like to, we cannot escape most of what we are exposed to, therefore maintaining good health over the winter season is critical. There are many ways we can support our health during these colder months and strengthen our body’s response to the cooler weather. Basic needs such as sleep, good nutrients, hydration, stress management, keeping active and having exposure to sunlight are all imperative to be able to keep those winter illnesses away.
While most of us turn to over-the-counter medications to try and beat these illnesses, there is no purer ‘medicine’ than eating food rich in nutrients to strengthen and support our immune system, which will keep these bugs away. Over 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, and what you eat forms the foundation of your health. Therefore if it’s not supported with the right foods, it becomes susceptible to illness and disease.
When it comes to our immune system, the major nutrients that will assist it in performing at its best are: Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Omega 3, Ginger, and Probiotics.
Below outlines the ways we can get each of these through natural sources.
Vitamin C is used by the body to protect us when an infection enters the body and its anti-oxidant activity helps prevent inflammation and damage by bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons but is also present in capsicum, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi fruit, strawberries and potatoes.
Zinc acts as an anti-oxidant which not only strengthens our immune system but can also shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc is found mostly in red meat and poultry, so zinc supplements may be something you need to consider if you are a vegetarian/vegan or just don’t eat these foods regularly.
Foods rich in Vitamin E have anti-oxidants which help boosts the body’s defence against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Some examples are nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
As I was growing up there was nothing more comforting then a bowl of chicken soup when I wasn’t feeling well and I could not agree more that bone broths are a great inclusion in your daily diet. They are full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids which support our adrenal health, nervous system and immune system.
Oily fish rich in Omega 3 such as wild salmon, herring, and anchovies all help kick-start your immune system by reducing harmful inflammation in your body.
Ginger is a powerful anti-viral herb that helps the body get rid of toxins, stimulate circulation and boost your immune system. Ginger can be enjoyed in your juices, your cooking and even as simple as sipping on a lemon and ginger tea.
Probiotics are essential in the fight to prevent infection. Probiotics increase the balance of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut which helps to keep our gut healthy and boost our immune system to guard us against colds. Probiotics can be taken in the form of a supplement or are rich in foods such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, Kefir and Kombucha.
By adding the foods listed above into your weekly diet, you can properly support your immune system to hopefully get through this winter without those winter blues.