Immune Boosting for Winter

Immune Boosting for Winter The Gut Clinic Sara Knight Herbalist New Lambton Newcastle Naturopath

As the weather starts to get cold, my thoughts turn to flannel sheets, hot cups of tea and, unfortunately, the start of cold and flu season. Ah yes, runny noses, sore throats, headaches, coughing… those flannel sheets are looking better and better!

Taking the time now to invest in good immune health means less time feeling poorly and more time enjoying the colder weather – whether that is out on the slopes or curled up in a warm bed reading a great book.

Here are my eight tips for building a strong immune system:

  1. Get your rest. A well rested body is better able to fight off the season’s various viruses. During sleep, the body repairs and restores itself. Consistent, sound, quality sleep is the very best investment you can make to stay healthy this winter.

  2. Eat immune building foods – eating a varied and healthy diet (remember eat FOOD and avoid CRAP) is an excellent way to stay healthy this winter. Adding extra onion, garlic and ginger to your foods is great as these are natural antimicrobials (fight germs and bugs.) Foods in high in vitamin C such as capsicum (especially cooked red capsicum), broccoli, pawpaw, guava, kiwifruit and lychees are great for boosting your ability to fight infections this winter as foods high in zinc (wheat germ, pepitas, beef, lamb and oysters.)

  3. Don’t forget to get outside to soak in the sun to promote production of vitamin D – also good for immune health. Plus the fresh air is a great way to decrease your exposure to the common airborne viruses of winter.

  4. Manage your stress – poorly managed stress will decrease your ability to stay healthy this winter (and beyond I would caution.) So although the days are shorter and colder, exercise, mediation, yoga and whatever else you do to manage stress needs to still take place during winter.

  5. Practice good hygiene – frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing and encouraging others to do the same are excellent ways to stop the spread of colds and viruses. Cleaning commons areas such as taps, handles and phones will also help.

  6. Increase probiotic foods and drinks. A surprising portion of your immunity rests within the gut. Therefore, a healthy gut equates to a strong immune system. Probiotics are an excellent way to build your immunity through your gut. A stand alone probiotic is great (and strongly recommended should you need to resort to antibiotics if your cold or flu becomes a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not effective against the viral cold and/or flu and therefore should be avoided unless it is known to have turned to a bacterial infection.) Probiotic foods such as saurkraut, tempeh, miso soup (so yummy on a cold night)  and yogurt (not so much when you have a cold as it is quite mucous forming, you are already making enough mucous during a cold so best to avoid) are great winter additions. Fermented drinks such as kefirs and kombuchas as also good ways to build and sustain your immunity.

  7. Supplement – in addition, it may be a good idea to increase your immune boosters with supplementation as well as diet. There are quite a few but you can’t wrong with Vitamin C and Zinc as a good starting point.

  8. Nurture your weak point. For me, if I am going to get sick it will, 9 times out of 10, be in my sinuses. And it has been like this for years and years. For others, it may be their throat (think tonsillitis) or their lungs (such as bronchitis.) Most people are aware of their nurture points. Looking after these areas of the body now mean you are less likely to get sick this winter.

For those that get sick every winter and/or those that just can’t afford to get sick, drop me a line to set up an appointment. I can help with medicinal herbs and nutrients to lessen the chance of you getting sick. And if you do get sick, remember that medicinal herbs and nutrients are a great alternative to antibiotics, cold medicines and cough syrups. And with less side effects.

Here’s to a great winter!