Winter is here, which generally means an increased likelihood of getting sick. The weather gets colder, it’s harder to get into the gym and we can sometimes tend to reach for more warming and filling meals. Quite often this can mean less micronutrients from veggies that are essential to keep our immune system firing!
Here are my top tips to boost your immunity and continue to smash out your work, life and training goals with maximal energy this winter.
70-80% of your immune system is located in the gut. It makes sense ensure it’s in good condition.
Limit refined sugars as this can create an unhappy balance of bacteria.
Support gut health with probiotic rich and gut healing foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and bone broth.
Garlic, ginger, turmeric
These are all great foods to add to your diet this winter to boost your immune system. Use them in cooking such as soups and stir fries, add them to hot drinks and teas or even smoothies.
Cooking garlic to decrease it’s immune boosting nutrients though, so try to add it last to meals. Raw garlic is fantastic when you do have a cold or flu! Mix a minced garlic clove in a tablespoon or two of water and just swallow it all in one go. Do this three times per day and your cold will be gone in no time!
Increase Vitamin C and Zinc intake
Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient for immune health. Make sure you are loading up foods rich in Vitamin C such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel spouts.
Zinc is also a vital mineral for optimal immunity. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, dairy foods, eggs, legumes and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C and Zinc supplementation may also be useful during the winter months to ensure you are getting adequate amounts. For zinc supplements, make sure it is in a chelated form to ensure maximal absorption.
Keep hydrated - herbal teas help!
In the colder months we often drink less water because we don’t feel as thirsty. Adequate hydration is extremely important though for a healthy immune system. If cold water isn’t appealing, sip on an array of herbal teas throughout the day, it all counts!
Doterra On Guard Essential oil
If you have a compromised immune system (like me at the moment) this can be very useful. A friend gave me some when I was fighting a cold and it really helped. I mixed 2 drops with some coconut oil and rubbed it on the soles of my feet before putting socks on. You can also add a couple of drops to boiling water for a tea. Don’t underestimate the power of essential oils, they can be extremely beneficial.
Lemon, sliced ginger and manuka honey tea
Make your own tea to sip throughout the day. The vitamin C, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of these ingredients creates a powerful immune booster.
This is also something that I used continuously when fighting a cold this winter and it’s great to soothe a sore throat too.
Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin can suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flu.
There are many ways to manage your stress, including meditation, diaphragmatic breathing (deep belly breaths), a hot bath with Epsom salts or simply lying down with your legs up the wall for 10-15 minutes before bed.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep will help you manage stress, make better food choices throughout the day and provide you with enough energy to you get some exercise in.
Switch off devices at least an hour before bed, set a night time routine, turn down the main lights and just use lamps or candles at night,
As the colder months set in, it’s harder to get into the gym (particularly if you train in a freezing CrossFit gym!). It is, however, important to continue moving to ensure you keep your immune system firing and releasing those endorphins. If going to a gym is not your thing, find an activity that you enjoy such as yoga, pilates or just getting out doors for a brisk walk in the crisp winter air.