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1. Rest Up.
As we hit the cooler months, it’s time to consider supporting our immune system against any opportunistic colds and flus. It has been said before and no doubt I will say it again, your body needs rest, rest, rest. So, embrace winter hibernation and get plenty of sleep. Take full advantage of this healing ability right here in your own body, for free! Getting good sleep is like rebooting the computer. You reboot immunity, improve memory, reinforce new learning, burn fat stores, release growth hormone, build new muscle…all while you are asleep! The timing of sleep is crucial, it is not enough to have your head on the pillow with your eyes shut. To get the full benefits of luscious healing sleep you need to catch the first wave of deep sleep as it passes about 9.30-10pm. So get organised, finish up all those little jobs in the evening and be ready to snuggle into bed earlier than usual. Even if you only manage this 4 nights out of 7, you will still reap the rewards and benefits of healing melatonin and joyful serotonin, our wake/sleep hormones.
2. Stay hydrated.
It is easy during warmer months to remember to drink fresh water but as the temps drop, water doesn’t always seem so appealing. If you feel like this, consider warming that water and adding a slice of fresh organic lemon or lime, excellent way to stay hydrated during the day and even to start the day, encouraging your digestion with this simple habit and enlivening the liver to produce more bile and digestive aids. Your skin particularly needs extra attention during the colder months when we alternate air conditioning with the outdoor environment and a lack of hydration will quickly show on your face. So stay well hydrated, plenty of fresh water during the day to keep your skin supple and moist.
3. Keep Moving.
We all know how important exercise is for us but did you know aside from maintaining our metabolic rate, exercise also helps our liver detox more efficiently, keep that lymph flowing and the bowels regular? Cleansing our lymph and blood in this way helps the immune system to move more freely through the body picking up bacteria, virus and potential pathogens and dumping them in the bowel for elimination from the body. So even when the nights close in and the temps drop, we need to maintain our exercise routines, even if you change the form, from step classes to yoga or start a new dance class; Nia, 5 Rhythms, Zumba, keep your body moving through the winter months to support your immune system.
4. Boost Vitamin D.
This singular vitamin, really it’s a hormone, is amazing in its scope and dexterity. It affects over 2,000 genes and is a central component to many enzyme fuelled reactions in the body, hormone balance and our immune system. It is key in creating many of our immune molecules; white blood cells, lymphocytes, T cells and macrophages. We know that with exposure to sunlight on our skin we synthesise vitamin D but we can also obtain it from our diets; cod liver oil, organic butter, eggs, sprouted seeds, oily fish. There is much research highlighting inadequate levels of vitamin D across Australia, get your GP to check your levels and if they are less than 100mmol/L, consider a supplement or boosting sun exposure and increasing intake of Vitamin D rich foods. Maintaining good levels of Vitamin D also requires assessing any potential prohibitors. Acid forming diets will affect vitamin D status as will age and obesity. There is much to be said for supplementation of this important hormone.
5. Micronutrient Support.
Zinc, vitamin C, elderberry, ginger, turmeric, garlic, lemon are my foods and nutrients of choice when it comes to their potential for boosting our immune system and generally protecting us from colds, flus and other immune compromising conditions! They all have a role to play so fill your plates with these fresh foods daily throughout winter and you will breeze through without a sniffle. Zinc is found in oysters, seafood, meats, eggs, seeds even green leafy veggies. Vitamin C rich foods include; blackcurrants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, parsley, cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum, kiwi fruit. Include the trifecta of lemon, turmeric and ginger in as many places as you can imagine, why not try this immune boosting tonic as a hot drink every day through winter; they all have immune boosting properties, anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory.
¼ inch fresh grated Turmeric
¼ inch fresh grated Ginger
Zest and juice of one organic Lemon or lime
Raw Honey to taste
Combine all ingredients, add to a pan of water and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Drink and enjoy !!
About the Author
Caroline, since graduating as a dietician has spent the past 14 years working in clinical practice in collaboration with local government, holistic doctors, herbalists, naturopaths, chefs and health retreats. She has co-authored a cookbook for children reflecting her unique nutrition philosophy, of using only whole foods for good health and using these same whole plant based foods as medicine. She is committed to helping people prevent and reverse disease and her passion is for helping others to achieve these outcomes by encouraging everyone she meets to keep reaching until they attain their highest goals in health, happiness, joy and passion.
Click here to view her website.