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  • Sharon Hultzer

Immune boosters to manage stress

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

There's an intricate battalion of warriors hard at work in your circulatory system. They are on the lookout for unfriendly invaders, eager to destroy them long before you are even aware of their presence.

If the immune system is working effectively, we should make it through the winter without needing countless boxes of throat lozenges and tissues. However, flu and cold viruses mutate constantly making it difficult for our immune system to keep up with all the changing defence requirements.

Here are a few tips to help boost your immune system this winter.

Improve food intake before buying more supplements!

Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids are all compounds that directly improve the performance of our immune systems. They are all present in fruits and vegetables, along with many other compounds that we humans haven’t discovered and have yet to name! Using a multivitamin supplement has its place – but it should always be to supplement an already healthy diet! Let’s look at how to achieve this:

Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the first essentials of a healthy winter diet, but often it is the very thing we don’t do in the colder months! We should be eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Make sure that fruits and vegetables are part of every meal. You can eat a grapefruit with your breakfast or add a sliced banana to your whole grain cereal. Always pack a fruit in with your lunch and try to bulk up sandwiches with extra tomato slices, avocado, lettuce and cucumber. Start dinner off with a hot vegetable soup – just one bowl of delicious hot soup and you will be eating a couple servings of vegetables! Frozen veggies are also still packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals – so even if you prefer using fresh vegetables, always keep some on standby in the freezer.

Brighten up! Choose the most colourful fruits and vegetables you can find to get the richest sources of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene and selenium. They help to protect us against the invaders and the damage they cause. Stock up on red and yellow peppers, kiwi fruits, beetroot and try some frozen mixed berries added to yoghurt for a dessert.

Snack wisely. Rather enjoy a fresh fruit or a handful of dried fruit as your “sweet fix” – cutting down on the chocolates and sweets. Keep a filled fruit bowl where it’s easily visible to remind you of the healthier alternative. Rather offer 100% pure fruit juices than sweetened alternatives that don’t contain any beneficial nutrients.

Spend some time outside

In the colder weather, most of us spend 90% or more of our time indoors. This means we’re breathing other people’s germs and sharing the ventilation system’s air! Step outside and breath some fresh air and while you’re at it get some exercise! Exercise helps to relieve stress levels, which is a key factor in keeping the immune system working well. It is important to have a plan to keep active in the cold of winter, such as walking on a treadmill, using exercise videos or a skipping rope at home or going to the gym. Even going for a walk outside will soon warm you up if you keep it brisk!

Protect Your Skin

In the dryness of winter it is important to keep your skin well moisturized and hydrated so that it can act as an effective barrier to viruses and bacteria. Vitamin A also improves the skin’s health, so hunt for the most deeply coloured fruits and vegetables you can find, such as pumpkin, red and yellow peppers, yellow sweet potatoes and dark green vegetables.

Get enough sleep

Night time is repair time on the battle front. Our immune system strengthens and repairs with adequate sleep, so make sure you get 7 – 8 hours each night.

Boosting your immune system before getting ill will certainly help you to avoid falling prey to the winter sniffles, and will also help you to recover sooner if one of these viruses do catch you.

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