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Foods for immunity and tips for wellness

With winter well and truly kicking in there are plenty of winter illnesses around (and a much more heightened awareness of these with the dreaded Covid).  It’s always around this time that I notice advertisements popping up about the latest immune support supplements, how to boost your immunity and what to do to prevent a cold.  

 

Unfortunately there are no super foods that will boost your immune system or magic supplements to take.  There are however a few things we can do to support our immune system and keep us fighting fit! These things also happen to fall into the category of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.  

  • Eat a healthy diet.  Our gut is home to the majority of your immune system so it is important to nourish our gut bacteria in order to protect it.  Gut bacteria like a variety of different foods with plenty of fibre, fruits and vegetables.  
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain healthy sleep habits and ensure you are getting enough sleep each night.  Try to go to bed at a similar time each night and wake at a similar time each morning (I know this is hard for those with babies and/ or young kids who often deny us that precious sleep).  
  • Manage stress.  This is a lot easier said than done but minimising stress in our lives is a real game changer.  Identify what the stressors are and some ways to help manage them.  Find things that help you to relax, whether that be reading a book or going for a walk.  
  • Minimise the risk of infection by washing your hands regularly and keep away from those that are sick (again, difficult if those that are sick are our lovely offspring!).  

 

There are some specific nutrients that are important for our immune system however unless you are avoiding whole food groups, a supplement is generally not needed.  

These vitamins and minerals include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C 
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc 
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D

 

Ensuring your diet contains plenty of plant foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds) will help you to meet your recommended daily intakes of these nutrients.  

Vitamin D is also important for the immune system and we get this from the sun, unless you are known to have a vitamin D deficiency you do not need a supplement.  Try and make the most of any sunshine throughout the day in winter and get outside for some fresh air and vitamin D!  

 

There is some thought that probiotics could be helpful to aid the immune system however this is not conclusive and more research is required before a concrete recommendation can be given.  

 

Keep well, Sarah x