It’s getting colder and colder and harder and harder to get out of bed of a morning which only means one thing – winter is well and truly upon us. And with the change of season comes heavy heads, sniffily noses and chesty coughs aplenty.
We’ve all been there, what starts off as a bit of a scratchy throat turns into a full blown flu in a matter of hours and all of a sudden you’re out of action and stuck at home for a week.
Netflix binge aside, getting sick sucks big time.
Now when it comes to keeping our immune system in check, we all know that vitamin C is a non-negotiable (think; citrus fruits and orange veggies). But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, end here.
Read on as nutritionist, Jessica Sepel takes us through some other important (yet often overlooked) ways you can boost your immunity with a few simple diet and lifestyle tweaks.
“You really want to focus on all nutrients that help support your immune system,” says Jess. In addition to vitamin C, “Zinc and B vitamins are great for immunity and can be found in a balanced, wholefood diet.” Foods that contain zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, legumes (lentils, chickpeas) and nuts (pistachios, almonds, cashews). B vitamins are naturally found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach as well as animal protein sources including eggs.
“Zinc is also so important for the integrity of the gut,” Jess goes on to explain. “It helps to replenish and repair cells. It’s so important to take care of your gut as 80% of your immune system exists there. [This means] removing gluten if it’s inflammatory for you, taking a good-quality probiotic (under the guidance of a health practitioner) and incorporating more probiotic friendly foods in your diets such as Greek yoghurt and fermented veggies.”
“I also think iodine is the best mineral to boost immunity,” advises Jess. “It’s an essential part of immune system and is related to thyroid health.” Not sure where to find iodine? Seafood and seaweed like kelp are both well-known sources.
Then comes the big one. Stress can wreak absolute havoc on your immune system, so finding ways to manage this should also be a top priority. “I recommend all my clients go into the JSHealth SFZ (Stress-Free Zone) for 20-30 minutes each day – that means stepping away from technology and spending 20-30 minutes reading a book, meditating or putting your legs up against a wall (this calms the nervous system). I also recommend incorporating a yoga or meditation practice, swapping out high intensity workouts for a walk in nature and switching off all social media by 8pm.”
As for extra tips on keeping those annoying cold and flu symptoms away? “I have more turmeric lattes – turmeric is a really great immune booster,” shares Jess. “I consider winter to be a time for me to nourish my body; lots of early nights, more yoga, more slowing down and more warming foods, less drinking, lots of herbal teas and more home-cooking.”