Nurture your immune system is the best advice to get through winter healthy. It protects the body from invaders and germs that make you ill and there's plenty you can do to avoid the sniffles.
FACTORS THAT CAN REDUCE YOUR IMMUNITY
Stress When you are stressed, your cortisol levels increase, which can reduce the quality of your sleep and make you susceptible to infections.
Sugar This slows down your white blood cells, which attack foreign bodies like cold and flu bugs. Sluggish white cells leave you vulnerable.
Food poisoning A bout of gastroenteritis irritates and damages the digestive lining so your immunity is instantly affected when with an upset stomach.
Antibiotics Yes, the pills that your doctor gives you are good for fighting viruses but also kill the good bacteria in your digestive system too.
GO WITH YOUR GUT
It's important to keep your gut happy as it keeps your immune system balanced. The digestive system has to keep out harmful substances as well as absorb essential nutrients to attain that balance. Keep your digestive tract healthy by eating these -
Glutamine is one of the most important nutrients for your intestines. It's essential for maintaining intestinal function and aiding in the immune response. You can find it in oats so a bowl of porridge is the best way to start the day.
FOS (or fructooligosaccharide) is a prebiotic that stimulates the growth and activity of bacteria in the digestive system. You can find these in bananas, onion, garlic and leeks. Jerusalem artichokes have the highest concentration of FOS.
NUTRITION CAN HELP
Get more vitamins in every mouthful by choosing your meals wisely.
Vitamin C produces T cells, a type of white blood cell that circulates around the body scanning for infections. You can find vitamin C in red peppers, broccoli, berries and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin A helps to repair digestion. You can find vitamin A in cheese, eggs, oily fish, carrots, orange and yellow vegetables.
Vitamin D helps the T cells with fighting infection. The best place to get vitamin D is from sunshine but unfortunately for us Brits we don't get a lot of that! You can also find it in eggs and fish or by taking a supplement.
Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds and supports growth. You can find this in pumpkin seeds, spinach, cashew nuts and red meats. When you start to feel a sore throat coming on, a zinc lozenge is a great thing to help fight the infection.
Interesting, right? Next time someone close by says they aren't feeling too perky, push a zinc lozenge in their direction then eat your fill of oats, red peppers and red meats and you'll be sitting pretty.