As we say goodbye to the summer sunshine and welcome our winter woolies, it is vital that we take extra care to look after our health to avoid getting sick this autumn. Here we share our top 10 tips to boost your immune system and safeguard a healthy and happy you until summer 2017.
- Eat a balanced diet
Although this may sound typical to any other healthy eating advice, it’s so important that it requires repetition! Eat a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, quality animal protein, seeds, nuts and good fats. Increase your consumption of dark green leafy vegetables as there is evidence that it increases your immune defences. Avoid processed food as it tires your body and is packed with additives. Juicing your vegetables is a great way of meeting your daily nutritional requirements, while boosting your immunity through the intake of vitamins and minerals.
- Eat the rainbow
Your body needs plenty of vitamin A, C, D and E as well as selenium, zinc and omega 3s. Choose colorful vegetables and fruits to bring you loads of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system.
- Diet rich in natural prebiotic foods
80% of your immunity is in your gut flora. If you strengthen your gut flora you’ll automatically strengthen your immunity. You can boost your immune system by feeding the friendly bacteria in your gut. Great food sources include artichokes, asparagus, dark green leafy vegetables, garlic, leeks, legumes, onions…
- Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement
Probiotics are natural sources of friendly bacteria and they should be part of your everyday diet. They are found in kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha tea, pickles and other fermented foods. Avoid antibiotics if possible. They kill off the good bacteria in your gut. If you do need to take antibiotics, make sure you take a good probiotic supplement afterwards to replenish the friendly bacteria in your gut.
- Reduce your sugar intake
About 20 teaspoons of sugar (equivalent to two sodas) are enough to impair your body’s immune responses. Sugar reduces your vitamin C absorption and decreases by 50% the ability of your white blood cells to absorb bacteria for up to 5 hours afterwards.
- Add spice and herbs
Garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric and all herbs have tons of antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. They are natural immunity booster and should be part of your diet.
- Take vitamin D
Studies show that vitamin D helps maintain a strong immune system. You may consider getting your GP to check your blood vitamin D levels to ensure your levels are healthy before we embark into the winter season. As sun, the best source of vitamin D, can be difficult to find in the UK, a daily supplement provides a convenient way to keep your nutritional levels balance.
- Workout and reduce your stress levels
Stress, both physical and emotional, weakens your body’s immune response. It is scientifically proven the right amount of exercise (roughly 30mins/day) can dramatically reduce one’s stress levels. However, It’s important to note that although exercise helps the body to cope with stress, excessive exercise can actually be harmful to your body, in particular to your immune system. Just remember to always listen to your body’s needs before your personal wants.
- Sleep minimum 7 hrs a day
Sleep deprivation weakens you body. Make sure you get plenty of sleep so your body can recharge and your cells have time to repair.
- Drink plenty of water
We cannot stress this enough, hydration is key to the proper functioning of our bodies. Water flushes out toxins and help produce lymph, which carries white blood cells responsible for immunity. Any easy way to increase water intake is through a range of herbal, non caffeinated teas.
Stephanie Achar has worked as an Art Editor for Conde Nast Traveller and freelanced for Vogue UK, ELLE UK, Vogue US, Marie Claire US, BBC Books and Lamartiniere Group. She is an avid member of The Power Yoga Co. and currently studies nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. You can follow her on instagram @stephanieachar or contact her on facebook.