Stuffy head? Sore throat? Cough? Runny or blocked nose? Yes flu season is here again. As the weather starts to turn and our bodies adapt to the change in seasons, our resilience is a good indicator of how well we’ve looked after our bodies (and minds) this summer. A healthy immune system provides a ‘buffer’ in times of need enabling us to withstand increased exposure to infections.
This week I’ve seen an increase in antibiotic prescriptions, selling and advising on over the counter cough and cold remedies and everyone is coming in for their flu jabs. As I write this, I have a slightly stuffy head and scratchy throat so am sharing my top tips on how to optimise your health and wellbeing over flu season to avoid those annoying coughs, colds and flu symptoms.
Manage your stress levels. This is always at the top of my list! Stress has a huge impact on your immune system and increased stress levels can lower overall resistance to fighting off infections. Take steps to reduce stress levels and be aware of patterns in your lifestyle that might be contributing to stress. Seek help if you feel it would be of benefit
Increase foods that support your body’s natural defences. Foods rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, B and minerals such as Zinc, Selenium and Iron all help to enhance functioning of the immune system. Vitamin A in particular works with Zinc to support a healthy gut and lung lining. The majority of infections over flu season are air-borne or gastro in nature, foods rich in Vitamin A help to protect the body’s natural barrier. See my Functional Foods page for more info on food sources
How’s your gut health? The digestive system is intrinsically linked to your immune system so a healthy gut is really important for a healthy immune system. Book into my next Gut Health workshop for more in depth advice on how to improve your gut health!
Bone Broth. Sorry veggies and vegans but this is something I swear by! I haven’t found anything else as effective as bone broth for when you are starting to feel a bit under the weather. Just one hot bowl of this nutrient rich broth provides optimal nourishment fast and makes me feel instantly better.
Avoid smoking. Smoking increases free radicals and depletes vitamin C
Avoid refined sugars. Consuming large amounts of refined sugars can affect vitamin C uptake by the body and lowers immunity
Add ginger, garlic and turmeric to your food. These have anti-microbial properties and help to protect from infections. Ginger lemon and raw honey tea and adding garlic and turmeric to soups, stews or curries is an easy way to get them in!
Get enough sleep! Sometimes this can be really difficult but prioritising sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your immune health
Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol depletes B vitamins and zinc which are 2 of the main nutrients your body needs for an active immune system
Put time aside for real rest. This is probably one of the hardest things to remember! When we have a spare half an hour it’s tempting to have a go at the to do list, watch a bit of TV or catch up with housework but being able to rest the mind is very nourishing to the body and helps to improve general wellbeing. Try deep breathing exercises, yoga, a short meditation or even a nice Epsom salt bath with lavender oils to rebalance your mind and body.