I was feeling pretty fit and healthy as I sit here on my train back from Ideal World to London after doing a fitness TV show on the latest Vibration Machine Technology – these Vibrapower machines are a great way to get fit quickly with oscillation and linear vibration moving 100% of muscle fibres sometimes up to 42 times per second – but I digress.
I WAS feeling fit and healthy until what seems like half my train carriage started sneezing, coughing and generally spluttering – more often than not without any attempt top prevent the spittle from shooting at the speed of light around the carriage. This got me thinking – and slightly panicking it has to be said – about the onset of winter and how these viruses and bacteria can easily infiltrate our bodies, especially from the perfect viral breeding ground that is the Public Transport System. (No wonder I cycle everywhere, even in the depths of winter!) The panic was one of those split second intakes of breath as I had total recall on my nutritional studies and research. We can all strengthen our immune systems quite easily from these pathogens. So as the spittle hits us right in the eye – join me saying smugly – Bring it On!
One of the key things you can do is to strengthen you mucous membranes – these are the linings inside your nose and mouth and are your body’s first line of defence – bit like a moat around a castle – and the good news is that it is not that difficult to shore these up : both Vitamin A and Beta Carotene are perfect for this – think eggs, turnips, winter squash, bell peppers, salmon and cheese food wise. ?Herbal supplements such as Echinacea works well here as do superfoods. Supplement wise think spirulina, turmeric and reishi mushrooms. Food wise think carrots, beetroots, berries and spinach. All of these foods have a high ORAC levels – which is a measure of antioxidant strength. You should also work on strengthening gut health as a good deal of your immunity comes from this region. A healthy gut plays its part it fighting off pathogens. Consider a probiotic yoghurt or probiotic supplement like Fushi’s Total Body Probiotic complex to help re-colonise the gut with good bacteria. Essential after and during stress or if you are on the contraceptive pill.
Actually, boosting your immunity is not just about staving off colds and flu, a healthy nervous system is vital if you want to stay on your game throughout the darker months. That means mood, weight – winter is normally a time when stodgier foods can be too hard to avoid – and the lack of sunlight can make us short on essential vitamins and minerals, disrupt sleep patterns and negatively affect our ability to deal with what the day or our fellow commuter throws at us. Think about eating to nourish both your immune and nervous system. Here are 5 easy ways to do it.
Get Your Oats …
If you feel under pressure, whether it’s over work, or getting the work/life balance right, think stress busting foods like oats . Porridge is great for breakfast as the oats not only nourish the nervous system but also help to regulate blood sugar levels thereby reducing your cravings and the chances of going for nutrient poor sugary food choices. If not, go for protein – scrambled eggs on a slice of wholemeal toast for example.
Go Nuts …
Eat small – I mean small – nutritious snacks every 3 hours or so, to keep blood sugar levels under control – this minimises mood swings and the temptation to eat more than you need.
Vitamin B Supplements can help nourish the nervous system, too . Fushi’s Calm Aid contains all the essential Vit B’s with additional co-factors to rejuvenate the nervous system.
Swing Low …
If you’re feeling slightly low in spirits consider supplementing with herbs such as St John’s wort – research has shown it to be as effective as some prescription drugs in cases of mild depression – check with your doctor though before you self medicate. Vitamin D supplementation can also help with the blues – foods high in D include nuts, legumes like lentils, cheese, spinach, sardines and tuna.
Think Healthy Fats …
Healthy fats/oils protect mucous membranes and boost the immune system add flax or pumpkin seed to your porridge and if eating less fish in the winter months, consider an Omega Oil supplement – Udo’s is a good choice for veggies and non-veggies. When cooking add immune boosting spices such as cayenne, ginger, turmeric and garlic – all have well researched anti viral and microbial actions. Cook with onions as they have many properties that help boost your immune system’s natural killers cells! Other winter dietary tip is to cook tomatoes or tomato paste with a little olive oil which unlock important nutrients like lycopene – a natural disease fighting carotenoid.
Juice Away …
Fresh Juices even in winter are fantastic for the body. Avoid too many of the tropical fruits and add carrots to each juice for their Vitamin A content and to help keep the glycemic load of the juice down.
Fruit smoothies can be a great snack or small meal – try oat or rice milk as these benefit the gut and can provide sustainable energy. If you don’t have the time or inclination to juice, again you can supplement with one of the many green superfood powders on the market. Add these daily to water or juice for an antioxidant and antiviral boost. If investing in a juicer purchase a cold pressing or masticating model as these help to preserve all of the life giving enzymes. Do not forget to keep filtered water intake up – especially as central heating can dehydrate not only you but also your mucous membranes making it easier for viruses to attack.
Starting the day with a glass of warm water with a dash of fresh lemon juice is great for digestion and cleansing – remember, if other systems are not working properly the immune system will feel that stress.
Immulite from Futrients is a new food supplement that not only helps keep your immune system strong but also helps to boost metabolic function which has the added bonus of helping you to keep off those excess pounds in the colder months.