We are now in the season where colds, flus and other bugs can strike. Inside your body is your immune system, a powerful protective system that helps defend against bugs, viruses, cancer cells, toxic bacteria, parasites and yeasts. How well your immune system works can depend on many factors. We can help build up our defences and those of our family to prepare our bodies and if we do succumb to something recover more quickly.

Here are some top tips:
Immune boosting foods include lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. These protein rich foods also help to keep blood sugar stable. Eat a rainbow colour of fruit and veg for a whole spectrum of nutrients. Try as a snack, raw, steamed, in curries, stews, soups etc
Reishi, oyster and shiitake mushrooms have antiviral and antibacterial immune boosting properties. Blueberries, avocados, broccoli, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, garlic, ginger, chillies, shellfish, citrus fruits, onions all have nutrients such as zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, magnesium and plant phytonutrients that enhance immunity and fight infections. Try to include some of these foods everyday.

We can all keep hydrated with soups, water, herbal teas or a lemon, ginger and honey drink! Focus on slow release carbs full of B vitamins and slow release energy such as wholegrain rice or pasta, oats, quinoa and sweet potatoes. Enjoy warming soups, stews, casseroles, curries – which aid digestion in the colder months. Look after your digestive system as a large part of your immunity is located there!
Other tips include washing hands frequently, getting exercise and fresh air, laughter, fun, gratitude, yoga, deep breathing, music, getting enough sleep – maybe going to bed a little earlier, reducing stress in anyway (often hard I know), having time out for yourself, saying no sometimes and getting off the hamster wheel of life. Seek help if you feel stress, low or feel life is getting on top of you.

As much as possible limit sugary foods and drinks and refined processed carbs, junk food and additives and chemicals as they don’t benefit the body or help nourish it in anyway! Did you know that research shows that within 30 minutes eating simple refined sugars, this causes a 50% reduction in your white blood cells ability to kill germs? And can last up to 5 hours later! Think of a kids birthday party  – cake, sweets, juice etc – maybe you have noticed your child getting sick shortly after a party.

Actually a cold now and again can actually be viewed as a good thing! It is like a mini detox helping your body get rid of old physical and emotional toxins. And the unpleasant symptoms such as runny nose, cough and fever are actually part of the natural healing process. There are many supplements which can help a struggling immune system such as Vitamin C, Echincea, mushroom complexes, Elderberry, Zinc, Probiotics, Vitamin D, garlic, cats claw. Xlear nasal spray is a great nasal douche. As usual if you are on any medication check with your GP or Nutritional Therapist.

If you do succumb to bugs this winter wrap up warm, drink plenty of fluids, gargle with salt water or tea tree oil, have a Hot Toddy or lemon and ginger drink. Try making a healing soup from red onions, garlic, carrots, sweet potato, fresh ginger, turmeric and coconut milk. Puree and serve with love! Relax and let your body heal. If we keep pushing when ill we can weaken our immunity further (I know this only too well!)
Do what you feel you can during the winter months to help support you and your family`s health. Anne xx