7 Ways to Optimise your Immune Function Naturally
We’ve officially hit winter and we’ve noticed staff numbers dwindling! But never fear – we have some tips on how you can eat your way to incredible immunity and help keep colds away!
The best thing you can do to help your body ward off winter health woes is to strengthen and enhance your immune system – your body’s natural line of defense.
When it is strong & healthy, your immune system acts as a barrier that prevents foreign invaders like bugs and bacteria from entering the body. If an invader happens to slip by the wall, a healthy immune system will ensure production of white blood cells to destroy harmful substances.
There is no miracle pill or supplement you can take to boost your immune system, but a nourishing diet and healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way to ensure a robust and resilient immune system!
Try these tips for radiant health this winter…
Eat with the Seasons…Mother Nature takes care of us in some pretty amazing ways! Season after season we are provided with what we need for sustenance. Did you know that a lot of winter seasonal produce is extra rich in immune boosting properties like selenium, zinc and vitamins A, C and D? So not only is eating in harmony with the seasons better for the planet and your bank balance, it’s also better for your health!
Supercharge with vitamin C…Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant known to be wonderful for colds and flu. This flu-fighting vitamin enhances immune system functioning and increases the production of the antibodies and white blood cells in our body that are key to warding off infections. The most well-known sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges and limes, but other wonderful sources include kiwi fruit (contains more vitamin c per gram than oranges), berries, broccoli, capsicum and dark leafy greens.
Warm & Spicy… We don’t have to convince you how important it is to slip into a fluffy jumper and jacket during winter. Did you know it’s just as important to warm up internally? Warm your insides with nourishing, comfort-style foods like baked, stewed and slow-cooked meals, and vegetable soups and casseroles over salads and raw foods.
Add circulation-boosting spices like cinnamon, thyme, chilli and cayenne to your meals. Not only are spices fantastic flavour enhancers, many of them also have wonderful health benefits and can help keep you warm from the inside out!
Go for gold with turmeric – this golden spice has been used widely to treat a variety of ailments. It is said to act as a natural anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant and has been proven in preliminary studies to reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections!
Get into ginger. Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial antiviral and anti-parasitic – ginger has enough health boosting properties to fill a book – or three! Try cutting off a few inches of fresh ginger root and steeping it in hot water to enjoy some ginger tea (tip: add in a dash or local raw organic honey for an extra antibacterial boost!).
Said to have powerful medicinal properties, garlic has been a health must-have in cultures all over the world for thousands of years! It contains a heavy concentration of the compound allicin. Studies have shown allicin to have immune boosting, antibacterial and antiviral properties – proving garlic to be a real winter-busting powerhouse!
Try this warming ginger and tumeric tonic from Hippies in the City…
Build up your friendly bacteria…Your gut is the foundation of good health. Not only is it responsible for digestion and nutrient assimilation but, with over 80% of your immune cells located in the lining of your gut, it also plays a major role in immune function and prevention of pathogen invasion. To ensure it functions effectively, it is important to maintain a healthy balance of good gut bacteria. One of the best ways to achieve this is by incorporating probiotic-rich fermented foods into your diet. Include kefir, sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt and kombucha to help colonise the digestive tract and inject your gut with essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
A to Zinc… Zinc is a key trace mineral that affects many aspects of your immune system. It is said to increase production of white blood cells and assist the immune system in releasing antibodies. A study published in the 2004 Journal of American Pharmacy Association credited zinc in helping reduce the duration and severity of symptoms of colds and the flu. To help boost your zinc intake look to foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds and beans.
Top up with Teas… Teas (along with a warm blanket and good book) are the perfect winter accompaniment! They are wonderfully warming and help ward off winter invaders, soothe a sore throat and calm a chesty cough. When searching for the perfect tea, look for ingredients like…
Echinacea … this indigenous North American plant is said to stimulate the immune system, and studies have proven it shortens the duration and decreases the symptoms of the common cold.
Peppermint… is beneficial against fevers and great for soothing upset tummies.
Thyme… has long been employed by herbalists as an immune system tonic and reliever of chest and respiratory disorders as well as coughs and colds. It may also have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial effects.
Sage is considered a wonderful natural antibiotic and antiseptic.
Try warding off winter invaders with Breathe Easy Herbal Tea. This fortifying brew of echinacea, elderflower, licorice root, peppermint, sage and thyme will help build up your immune system and ward off winter bugs! Infuse a teaspoon of tea in a cup of freshly boiled water for 5-10 minutes. Allow to brew to your preferred strength and drink warm.
Balance is best… Food is wonderful, don’t get us wrong, but it’s not the be-all end-all when it comes to immunity. Other lifestyle factors also play a huge role. Stress, fatigue, late nights and an irregular, chaotic schedule can all compromise your immune system and wreak havoc on bodily rhythms. For the best possible health during the chilly winter months, ensure you combine a nourishing diet with plenty of water, rest and relaxation!
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