Friday, 2 January 2015

Winter Health - eat well, sleep well, be well!

Christmas is over and we're starting the New Year - complete with resolutions (achievable and not-so-achievable!). Here's some helpful ways to hopefully dodge the coughs, colds and bugs that seem to be around at this time of year!

Healthy raspberries
  1. Eat fruit. Fruits, especially berries such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries and blackberries are naturally high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids and antioxidants. These all help to boost your immunity levels. Other good sources include broccoli, apricots, peppers and kiwi fruits.
  2. Vitamin D3. Our main source of vitamin D is the sun and so as the days are shorter in the winter, our levels can go down. Vitamin D is vital to ensure adequate absorption of calcium for our bones but it also plays a crucial role in the normal functioning of the immune system. Many of us can become deficient in vitamin D over the winter because even when outdoors with some skin exposed, very little vitamin D is produced due to the angle of the sun during the winter months. A daily dose of vitamin D3 can therefore help to fortify the immune system through the colder months.
  3. Echinacea. This is a fabulous herb which 'modulates' the immune system, which simply means that it helps to teach it what to do, thereby rebalancing it, meaning it can function better. Echinacea is also a powerful lymphatic cleanser; it stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection.
  4. Zinc. This is essential for the immune system and healing. Enjoy seafood and nuts and seeds, especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 
  5. Honey. Manuka honey has great health benefits. Enjoy this delicious tasting food and stay healthy.
  6. Stay active. When it's cold outside, it's difficult to get out there and do some exercise but try to! Research has shown that exercise is another way to help your immunity.
  7. Bin it! Don't leave dirty tissues or hankies lying around - it can also spread your cold. When you cough, sneeze or blow your nose the secretions that end up in your hanky or tissue are teeming with the virus that's making you sick. These viruses can survive for some time once they leave your body, so when you leave a tissue for someone else to pick up, you are actually leaving a little virus bomb to go and infect someone else's hands. So throw away any used tissues and wash your hands straight away.
  8. Sleep well. Your immune system helps you to fight off common infections, Poor sleep and insomnia can affect our immune system so make sure you get plenty of rest.
  9. Vitamin C. There is considerable evidence that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays a vital role in many immune mechanisms. Infection rapidly depletes the normal levels of vitamin C. Remember that bugs stay active on surfaces so avoid touching too many public places such as escalator rails or cash point surfaces.
So, with these few tips you *should* be able to ward off the dreaded colds which are still lurking, waiting to catch you out!