Boost your immune system this winter

There are many ways in which you can help your immune system to fight off infections during the winter months; many simply requiring you to tweak your lifestyle. There is not enough space in this newsletter to cover this topic comprehensively, so we recommend that you also do some research. Before making any dramatic lifestyle changes, please consult your General Practitioner (GP).

Eat nutrient-rich food

Eat foods high in the vitamins and minerals that are known to play a part in immune function, such as the following:

Vitamin B6 In fatty fish, chicken, chickpeas, green vegetables, etc.
Vitamin C In citrus, bell peppers, guavas, papaya, etc.
Vitamin D In cheese, egg yolks, organ meat, etc.
Vitamin E In almonds and some other nuts, leafy vegetables, etc.
Zinc In shellfish, mushrooms, nuts, etc.

 

Avoid added sugars

Obesity, type-2 diabetes and heart disease can all weaken your immune system. It therefore makes sense to limit added sugars in your diet.

Drink enough water

Your body needs to be hydrated to function optimally, so make sure you drink enough water, even if some of it is in the form of unsweetened drinks such as tea.

Exercise in moderation

Regular, moderate exercise is not just healthy for your body and mind in general, but has also been shown to have a positive effect on the regeneration of immune cells. If you can exercise outdoors in the sunshine, you can boost your vitamin D levels at the same time!

Get enough sleep

Studies show that poor quality sleep can make you more susceptible to illness.

Manage your stress

Sustained high stress levels have a negative effect on immunity. You can use breathing or meditation techniques to help you manage your stress, or simply go for a walk.

Supplement if necessary

Some people simply do not absorb enough vitamins and minerals through their food intake. Discuss with your PGP whether you should take supplements during the winter, for example, vitamin D, which will produce more slowly in your body as a result of weaker sunshine and the fact that you will probably be spending more time indoors. There are various articles about the role vitamin D can play in avoiding COVID-19 related complications, specifically for people with vitamin D deficiency. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, consider discussing this issue with your doctor, as supplementing with too much vitamin D can also have certain negative effects on one’s health.