Simple Tips for Boosting Your Immunity this Winter
Picture this. You’re on track with regular exercise and you’re focused on your healthy eating routine, when all of a sudden a cold comes along and knocks you for six. You’re tired and lethargic and definitely not keen to keep up with your better health plans. Thankfully, you can fight back - here are six simple ways to boost your immunity this winter and help you to fight off those winter woes.
1. Slurp that soup
Your mum was right when she made you a slow-cooked chicken soup to treat a cold. Commonly containing a whole chicken, onion, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems and parsley, the humble chicken soup is actually a recipe for winter wellness. Its common cold-fighting abilities may be related to its effects on infection-fighting cells in the body and encouraging the movement of nasal mucous.1 When slow cooked, immune-supporting protein and amino acids in the chicken are broken down and more easily digested. And, its full of healthy plant nutrients to boot!
2. Eat your oranges
Everyone knows how important vitamin C is in supporting the immune system, but do you know why? Vitamin C helps to produce vital immune cells which protect against infection, as well as clearing out infectious material.2,3 And, supplementation with vitamin C can even reduce the severity and duration of the common cold.4 Find vitamin C in delicious winter produce including oranges and other citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, potatoes and sweet potato.5
3. Slow it down
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is great for your health. But in the winter months make sure you don't overexercise, especially if you are feeling run down. Instead, choose restorative exercise such as walking, yoga, pilates and strength training. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep as well between seven to nine hours per night. Your immune system will thank you!
Have you noticed that the air in winter is dryer than it is in summer? That’s because there is less humidity in the air, which may mean more viruses and bacteria in the air.6,7 A humidifier may help to counteract this as viruses and bacteria find it hard to travel through moist air. Indeed, research shows using a humidifier can reduce the ability of airborne viruses that cause the flu as well as transmission of the influenza virus.6,7
5. Rug up
Again, your mum was right when she told you to take a jacket and keep warm in winter. We now know that viruses proliferate in colder temperatures.8 Plus, when body temperature lowers, immune cells can't travel around the body to fight off infections because blood vessels constrict.9 So, pull up a chair close to the fire, slip on your winter woollies and enjoy.
6. Fuel your immune system
Last but not least, make sure you choose the healthy food options this winter. When you’re tired and run down, you may be more likely to choose unhealthy food options such as refined carbohydrates and sugar. But before you bite into that doughnut, think of your immune system! Give it the fuel it needs to work well - including lean protein, vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates and nourish with the nutrients it needs to stay well this winter.
You'll find more tips for winter wellness including information regarding Vitamin D in our earlier blog here
- Parker-Pope T. The science of chicken soup, 2007. Viewed 3 May 2018, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/the-science-of-chicken-soup/
- Drake VJ, Angelo F, Gombart AF. Immunity in depth. Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University 2015. Viewed 21 Feb 2018, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/immunity
- Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab 2006;50(2):85-94.
- Hemila H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013;(1):CD000980.
- Osiecki H. The nutrient bible, 7thed. Eagle Farm: Bio Concepts Publishing.
- Shaman J, Kohn M. Absolute humidity modulates influenza survival, transmission and seasonality. PNAS 2009;106(9):3243-3248.
- Noti JD, Blachere FM, Mc Millen CM, et al. High humidity leads to loss of infectious influenza virus from simulated coughs. PLOS one 2013;8(2): e57485.
- Foxman EF, Storer JA, Fitzgerald ME, et al. Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells. PNAS 2015;112(3):827-832.
- Lowen AC, Mubareka S, Steel J, et al. Influenza virus transmission is dependent on relative humidity and temperature. PLoS Pathogens 2007;3(10):E151.