Fighting Fit: How To Boost Your Immune System
It’s time to boost your immune system with these top tips for the healthiest 2020 possible for you. The pressures of business, combined with the cold weather, can take its toll as cases of colds and flu rise around the world. Here’s how to empower yourself and keep well through the winter period and beyond.
There’s nothing like a home-cooked, nutrient rich soup to boost your mood on a wintry day. Do yourself a favour and batch cook a large helping using your favourite seasonal vegetables. Add a portion to your thermos and you’ll be able to enjoy hot, homemade soup wherever you go. Too busy to cook your own? There are some great pre-made soup options available to order online and on the high street. We love Amy’s Kitchen Organic gluten-free chunky tomato (get it in Waitrose); Press Nourish Soup’s kale and kelp; and Daylesford’s sweet potato dahl, both available at Planet Organic.
Fresh Lemon and Ginger Tea
We love the health-giving properties of fresh lemon and ginger tea. To make it, you’ll need a couple of lemons, some fresh ginger, a little ground turmeric and a jar of high quality Manuka honey. Add a slice or two of lemon and ginger to your teapot along with a teaspoon of Manuka honey and a quarter of a teaspoon of ground turmeric. Top up with hot water and enjoy at your desk on a chilly winter morning.
Looking for something a little quicker? The Pukka Herbal Collection features a wealth of herbs drawn from the immunity family range such as echinacea, lemon and ginger, Manuka honey and mint. (£2.80 for 20 Herbal tea sachets) Get it at Tesco.
Don’t underestimate the life-enhancing power of aromatherapy. Choose a quality essential oil blend to boost your energy, lift your mood or ease your stress and then pick a medium that fits your workspace at home or in the office. For example, a candle, a reed diffuser or a room spray are all popular choices, and will help you create a stress-free zone wherever you go. Our seasonal picks are Neom Organics’ Scent to de-stress Candle (£46) and Neal’s Yard’s Uplifting Organic Aromatherapy Room Spray (£17.00).
Home cooked food, delivered!
It’s often the times when you most need a home-cooked meal, that you simply don’t have time to make one. Pure Foods is London’s premium choice for quality pre-prepared meal delivery. With packages catering to healthy eating, weight loss and training, you’ll find a luxury, healthy meal delivery service at your fingertips (prices start at £39.95 per day). Meanwhile, offering great food at slightly lower price point, Bespoke Office Fuel promises healthy, nutritional meals delivered to you daily. Prices start at £19.99 for a meal and two snacks.
There are several great home and office fruit delivery companies, such as Eatfruit, which take care of replenishing your fruit basket so you don’t need to step out of your office to buy fruit each day. If you start the week with an overflowing fruit bowl, you might find yourself making healthier snack choices during the week. Choose berries for anti-oxidants, bananas for potassium, avocados for healthy fats and lemons for vitamin C.
This winter, many of us will wake up in the dark, spend the day in an air-conditioned indoor workplace and finish work in the dark too. Low levels of vitamin D (absorbed through sunlight) are associated with increased risk of infection and, according to the NHS, ‘The lack of sunlight means your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy.’ Make the most of the daylight hours by taking regular fresh air and sunlight breaks during the daylight hours.
Many important processes that relate to both the production of serotonin (the happy hormone) and the immune system take place in your gut. It makes sense then to ensure you’re topped up on plenty of pro-biotic, immune supportive foods this winter. Looking for a supplement to help? Try Nueco signature’s Prebiotic + Probiotic delivers 15 billion spores per dose ($75.00 for 30 days supply available online) or Viridian Synbiotic T Daily Veg Caps 150s (£28.85 for 150 Caps, available at Planet Organic) for a good gut feeling.
TIP/ Learn more about the gut and immune health from leading nutritionist Lee Holmes in issue 8 of Modern Woman magazine.
Just like a healthy diet, regular exercise can contribute towards overall health and good immune function. Embrace the elements and set yourself a goal of two 20-minute sessions of running or brisk walking per week. If your walk includes the local park, all the better. The wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature, also known as biophillia, have been highly documented. Just too cold and rainy? Indoors exercise classes are a great way to relax and keep fit through winter. Ask your yoga or pilates teacher to share classes with you online so that you can carry on keeping fit and upbeat. Or join an online workout programme such as The Mirror, Pelaton, or find a free class here
Getting enough sleep is imperative. In a recent study from The Sleep Foundation, it was reported that it’s during sleep that without enough sleep the body produces less cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, essentially initiating an immune response. Commit to rest, and getting your 8 hours sleep a night. If you have a late night or a bad sleep, make it up with a power nap (or two) the following day. Keep a close eye on substances that are known to reduce sleep quality such as caffeine and alcohol.
Diets high in refined sugars and processed foods (candy and coke) can impact our health and immune system, be mindful of your dietary habits this time of year with plenty of healthy, fresh food.
Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. Why not try it out? If you take the train or bus to work and usually browse social media, why not spend five minutes of that time counting your blessings and noting them down in your diary or notes app? If you work from home, make a poit of starting each day with a cup of tea and a note book, writing down all and any positives in your life.
Get into the habit of texting or writing e-cards to the people you work with letting them know how much you appreciate them. Voila; happiness breeds happiness, and gratitude breeds gratitude.
Further interesting information about immune function can be found below:
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