Remedies to boost immunity this Winter
Winter is an especially hard time on your immune system and it is never easy spending your day sick in bed with cold and flu symptoms, taking time off work and spending money on doctor’s visits. It is important to remember how serious the flu can be if you are not taking proper care of your immune system. The best way to prevent falling sick during the colder months is to start by boosting your immunity. There are plenty of ways you can help protect your body from the cold and flu. I have compiled a list of natural remedies that will help boost your immune system. Ginger This pungent root is a powerful antihistamine and decongestant that works wonders on boosting immunity. It helps to decrease inflammation and it’s an antibacterial against bacteria and fungus. Add this root to stir-fries, curries and salads or grate some fresh ginger and make a soothing tea by adding it to hot water with lemon and honey.
Garlic Garlic contains a compound called allin, when garlic has been crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin which is the main ingredient in garlic. Allicin contains sulfar, this is what gives garlic its distinctive taste and smell. Allicin helps to fight infections, bacteria and viruses that cause the cold and flu. Add garlic to your meals all year round, but especially in Winter time. If you’re feeling brave, crush garlic and add it to a tea (see recipe at bottom of page).
Vitamin C When you think of boosting immunity, you think of vitamin C and that’s because vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it so it must come from food or supplements. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and green vegetables such as peas, broccoli, spinach, kale. Load up on these during the colder months by incorporating them in smoothies, soups, stir fries or salads. Check out the 5+ A Day website for loads of delicious and nutritious recipes.
Vitamin D Vitamin D is an immune system booster as it helps your body to produce over 200 anti-microbial peptides, which fight off a wide range of infections including the cold and flu. Sitting in the sun for 15 minutes a day is going to help increase your vitamin D levels. Just make sure to not over do it! Some foods that contain this sunshine vitamin are eggs, salmon, shiitake and button mushrooms, ricotta cheese and tuna.
Echinacea This antiviral and antibacterial herb contains polysaccharides that increase the body's production of white blood cells, which fight infection. Echinacea is available in tablet or extract form from most health stores.
Probiotics The bacteria in our gut can affect our body’s ability to fight off infections which is why it’s important to eat foods with live and active cultures. Fermented foods and drinks such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha or taking a probiotic daily can help to improve gut health which will strengthen immunity.
Eliminate sugar Overtime continuous and regular consumptions of sugar can weaken your immune system enough to decrease its ability to fight off infections. When we consume sugar it impairs the functions of white blood cells. Foods such as white flour, refined grain products and refined sugar will all suppress immunity. If you feel a cold or flu coming on, be sure to cut down or cut out these foods and load up on foods rich in vitamin C to help fend off any illness.
Get more sleep Research has found that staying up late and not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system. Not getting enough sleep can lead to levels of a stress hormone which can lead to more inflammation in the body. Aim to get around 8 hours of sleep a night and if you are feeling run down, have an early night or take a day off work to catch up on some shut eye.
Drink lemon, honey, ginger, garlic and turmeric with warm water If I’m ever feeling run down I swear by this magical tonic. There is extensive research on each ingredient to help lower inflammation and fight off the common cold. I use juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger (grated), 1 clove of garlic (minced), ¼ teaspoon powdered turmeric in a cup of warm water. It might not taste the best but I assure you it will help to fight off the cold!
I would love to hear any other suggestions of how you boost your immunity.