Catching a winter cold and suffering from seasonal sniffles can happen to the best of us, but why do we seem to struggle more during the festive season? The accumulation of late nights, combined with social gatherings that include a lot of alcohol and the indulgences of rich, fatty and sugary foods, can all play havoc with our natural resilience and leave us far more susceptible to catching a cold. To make it even worse, those that really give their immune systems a run for their money by burning the candle at both ends and not topping up on extra vitamins and foods to help recovery, can find it even harder to shake off the symptoms once they come down with a virus.
This lack of immunity can usually result in them often having to deal with a chesty cough, tiredness and a runny nose that may linger for weeks. Up your health game this season to keep your immune system fighting fit – here, experts explain their best lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to strengthen your immune system, fight off colds fast and help you to feel well and stay well.
1 Work out to boost your immunity
“Lifestyle choices, diet, sleep, mental health and exercise are all aspects of creating and maintaining health,” says Rebecca Convey, Pilates expert and Owner of Kinetic Pilates. “There is strong correlation between a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system and to maintain a strong immune system, you need to focus on overall health. Exercise has been proven to be an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Classical Pilates is an excellent exercise choice to create and maintain health. It is an exercise method that is effective at building strength, flexibility and stamina. It can be adapted to fit the needs of everyone, regardless of their fitness level, injury or physical issue. It is a method that focuses on the mind/body connection which helps with physical and mental health. Using Classical Pilates to create healthier exercise habits and a healthy mind-body connection, you will be creating a healthier lifestyle and that can only have a positive effect on your immune system.”
2 Get a good night’s rest
“Many studies have shown the importance of a good night’s sleep to a healthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep can affect everything – especially immune function,” says Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart, PhD. “Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and has recently made its way to the forefront of popular wellness. It can help with stress, anxiety and can also improve sleep. A few drops of i-cann CBD oil taken at least an hour before bed may improve insomnia, and promote a restful night’s sleep.”
3 Bee prepared
Gwyneth Paltrow, Fearne Cotton, Jasmine Hemsley, and Leah Wood are all fans of UnBEElieveable Health, which harnesses bee superfoods with plant-based nutrients, all of which have proven benefits. Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson says: “If you are burned out, your immunity will also suffer. Stay healthy and boost your immunity this winter by trying Bee Prepared Daily Defence. It contains ingredients such as Olive Leaf extract, elderberry and acerola cherry, which can really help our immune system. Research has also shown the benefits of bee propolis for our immunity. All these can help protect us during the winter months from the increase in viruses.” The hero ingredients include bee propolis and bee pollen which have been the subject of over 2,000 studies for their benefits on health, immunity, skin conditions, and their antibiotic and antiviral properties. Bee Prepared Daily Defence may be taken daily or as needed – for colds and flu, when run down, or when recovering from a serious illness.
4 Wear a mask when you travel and inside
“Our immune system is always working to protect us, that’s its job,” says Dr. Naomi. “It gets used to the environment we are in, but when travelling around in public places, such as tubes, trains and planes, it has to work even harder to cope with all of the different viruses and germs going around. If you often get sick when travelling and don’t want to arrive at your family’s house with a cold two days later, then wearing a mask when travelling might help to protect you from droplets in the air that may contain germs. The same can be said when in busy areas doing your Christmas shopping. The important thing here is to make sure you choose a mask that is actually going to protect you. Silver Life masks are reusable face masks that are registered as Type 2 PPE. Silver Life use silver-based 3D knitted technology and meets the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for use against the current microbial pandemic.”
5 Top up on your nutritional winter warriors
“If you’re someone who works long hours, with busy personal and family schedules, you will find that you are more susceptible to any viruses that are going around – everyone I know that has young children seem to struggle with more colds than those that don’t!” says Dr. Naomi. “Taking care of your immune system by ensuring that you aren’t lacking any vital vitamins and minerals is essential. I recommend taking a high-quality multivitamin and mineral complex to ensure that you are getting everything you need this Winter. I personally take Evity multivitamins with my breakfast each day as they are really affordable and include high-quality, science-based nutrients. Plus, their multivitamin complex contains essential nutrients for immune support including Vitamin A, C and D, selenium and zinc.”
6 Make time for medicinal mushrooms
“Mushrooms are high in beta-glucans – natural substances that have been found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off bugs and germs,” says Hania Opienski, naturopath and mycotherapy specialist consultant. “However, if you really want to up your immune power, certain types of mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake are especially rich in the most powerful immune-supportive beta-glucans. So, getting a daily dose of these mushrooms when you’re feeling rundown or indulging a little too much in festive foods and drinks, could be beneficial to help prevent and fight off colds and help you to recover quicker. Try taking two capsules of Hifas da Terra Bio-Defense vegan mushroom blend each morning.”
7 Up your intake of brightly coloured fruit and veg
“Let’s be realistic here – most of us crave warming carbs to get us through the winter, but it’s important to up your daily RDA to ensure you have the natural plant power to keep you healthy,” says Dr Naomi. “Research has found that people who eat more fruit and veg seem to have a better immune function. One study in Germany found that healthcare workers who consumed more fruit and veg had 20% fewer colds throughout the time of the study. An added bonus is that fruit and veg are also great for your skin and overall health. If you are busy and always on the go, I recommend the Fogamatic wellness system. It’s easy to use anywhere and everywhere, just add water, whizz and enjoy a vitamin boost.”
8 Spice up your immune system
“Herbs and spices have been used medicinally since ancient times and warming spices, such as ginger, clove and cinnamon, are brilliant to keep you healthy over winter,” says Sebastian Pole, herbalist and founder Herbalreality.com, a new website which educates on popular medicinal herbs. “Preclinical studies have shown that ginger can enhance immune function and it has even been hailed as having both antiviral and antibacterial effects – so start adding fresh ginger to your herbal teas and cooking and reap the benefits of this super spice. Turmeric is another spice that has been the focus of much research over the past few years for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Research has also shown that curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, is brilliant for immune health. It has been found to be an immunomodulator, which means that it is able to suppress or stimulate the immune system to help fight off illness. You can find out more about the health and immunity benefits of spices at Herbalreality.com.”
9 Up your ante on the Vitamin C
“Vitamin C is a staple in my supplement cupboard all year round, but it is especially good to take when you are feeling really run down. If you are burning the candle at both ends, up your ante on the Vitamin C. Add fresh lemon juice to warm water or your herbal tea every day, and for an additional natural C boost, try Yourzooki liposomal Vitamin C 1000mg. You can drink it straight from the sachet or add it to drinks or food. Vitamin C is a great way to support your immune system and energy levels when feeling run down, and as an added bonus, it supports collagen formation in the body. So, it’s well worth investing in some Vitamin C this winter not only to support immune health and improve energy, but to look after your skin too.”
10 Employ strategies for stress
Nutritionist Libby Limon says, “It’s been a stressful year so far and everyone’s feeling a little anxious from recent events. Our ability to cope leaves many of us in a chronic stressed state with a tendency for anxiety, poor sleep and feeling overwhelmed. Therefore when pushed, this can then tip over to physical symptoms or getting sick. Taking some time to incorporate some stress relief methods into your everyday routine such as mindful breathing, walking or yoga can help you switch off more effectively rather pushing yourself to edge of burnout. Ashwagandha is ideal for anyone trying to balance stress levels naturally. Studies suggest that ashwagandha can help our bodies to restore balance by providing adrenal support and balancing the stress hormone cortisol. Ashwagandha is an ancient adaptogenic herb that helps to promote a feeling of calm by helping to reduce stress, and helping to bring the body back into balance. It also balances hormonal levels and provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to support the immune system.