Winter immune support
By Tamzin Motion
Winter has well and truly arrived, so it’s the right time to think about giving our immune system a little extra support.
Look after yourself over the colder months by eating right, keeping active and sleeping well — just like we should all year round! But if we do need an extra boost with the increased amount of bugs and viruses lurking, here are a few things that will benefit your health this winter.
Let's look at your diet
It’s always good to start off by gaining those vital nutrients through our diets by incorporating foods which are specific to boosting the immune system; specifically, foods which are high in zinc and vitamin C.
Common foods that are high in Zinc (and that are also reasonably priced) include leafy greens, pumpkin seeds and raspberries. Foods high in vitamin C include capsicums, broccoli, strawberries and kiwifruit.
One ingredient which nobody should live without in the winter months is garlic. Garlic is a true superstar when it comes to strengthening the immune system. Not only is it antiviral and antibacterial, it also increases a number of killer cells in our body. Albeit poorly named, these cells are what fight viruses and are the first to act when unwanted bugs enter the body.
Another go-to duo in our household are manuka honey and lemon drinks — especially if you feel something coming on! Manuka honey holds antibacterial properties, as does lemon! Look at the UMF (unique manuka factor) rating of your honey. The higher the number, the more antibacterial factors the honey holds. Adding some fresh ginger to this hot drink mix is a personal favourite of mine, the ginger works to bring down any inflammation occurring in the body and also helps to warm the body from within!
Another option is to use immune support supplements. This is a great way to boost your immune system, paired with a smart diet, to make sure it’s ready to fight any bugs!
Vitamin C is great but it's best to choose a supplement that also includes echinacea, olive leaf, and or, andrographis. These ingredients not only help strengthen your immune system, but they're also anti-viral (meaning they will kill the virus that’s trying to attach itself to the cells).
A personal favourite of mine is the Bioceuticals brand Armaforce. Armaforce contains andrographis, echcinacia, olive leaf, vitamin C and zinc. All of which are antiviral and antioxidant. What makes this product a step up from other brands is that the andrographisis is standardised, meaning every tablet has the same amount so you will definitely get the dose that is stated. Andrographis is especially great. It is antimicrobial so will get rid of those viruses, bacteria and fungi trying to invade your cells. Echinacea is also antimicrobial, and has been proven to reduce the incidence and length of the common cold — one that seems to get everyone at some point!
Olive leaf is another immune booster with both it’s antibacterial and antioxidant factors. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, so make sure you include this amongst your immune supports!
If you take vitamin C, try the liposomal form. Your body will get so much more out of it compared to other forms of vitamin C. A Lypospheric vitamin C is where the vitamin C molecules are in liposomes which enter the bloodstream, and from there are taken up into the cells. So because it doesn’t have to pass through the gut before it is absorbed, your body gets so much more of the vitamin C, in turn meaning you reap more benefits!
Immune supports don’t necessarily have to be in a tablet form either. Artemis makes a wonderful immune boosting loose leaf tea. It’s a great tea to have each day for maintenance and gives the option of stepping it up to a couple of cups a day when in times of need. Artemis also do a range of tonics to aid your body’s defence to bugs, from viral infections to chesty coughs. And like other natural supplements from this brand, you can use them consistently to maintain good health but you can ramp the dosage when you are unwell. The fantastic thing about these natural-based medicines is that the ingredients not only fight the bugs in your body and help you get better, but they will also strengthen your immune system at the same time, so your chances of getting sick in the future are decreased.
As always, talk to a health professional before beginning any supplements, to be sure they are right for you. And stay healthy this winter, everyone!
Tamzin Motion BAppSci Sport Nutrition