Usually your propensity to catch a cold at this time of year would be no big deal but now, with health top of mind, keeping your immune system in peak condition is paramount.
Next to observing the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, nutritionists and health experts recommend reverting back to the basics – nutrition, managing stress and adequate sleep – as effective measures to guard against illness this season. Of course obtaining all the nutrients you can through food is most important, with peak demand leaving supermarket shelves sparse and the constraints of self-isolation making shopping harder, supplementation can provide additional immune system support.
It’s everyone’s go-to – and for good reason! Vitamin C is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, but taking a supplement in conjunction – especially in winter – is highly recommended. People are right when they say that increasing your Vitamin C can help you feel better if a cold is brewing – it is packed with antioxidants which help combat the winter chills and the destructive effect of free radicals which often find their way into your body.
When your gut does not function optimally, the rest of your body can suffer. Therefore, having exceptional gut health is important, especially over the winter months when there are more viruses to ward off that you may catch at work, school or out and about in your daily life. Probiotics are often referred to as “good bacteria” as they help replenish, balance and restore these bacteria and microorganisms in your digestive tract, improving your overall immunity. If you often find yourself sick and having to take medication such as antibiotics, add the High Potency Probiotic Support to your pack, as this will positively interact with your gut to regain balance.
Lesser known in relation to immunity but increasingly being recommended by healthcare professionals is vitamin D. Commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because we acquire it through sun exposure. However, most of us, especially in New Zealand where we tend to overprotect, don’t get enough vitamin D.
Research has shown that the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off viruses — while it won’t protect you from getting viruses it has been found to reduce the severity of illness and accelerate recovery. The implications of vitamin D deficiency on the immune system have become clearer in recent years, especially for those with autoimmune diseases. There appears to be an increased susceptibility to infection if you have an autoimmune condition hence the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D can extend beyond the standard listed benefits.
Zinc is a mineral which may not come to mind when you think of beating the ills and chills this winter, but it is a powerful supplement for improving your immunity. Zinc has been found to aid in reducing the length of colds, as well as helping fight the body’s unwanted infection. Vitally offers Zinc in 15mg tablets so add one to your pack to help beat and prevent nasty colds from sneaking up on you! It’s also vegan friendly, and is chelated so it absorbs more quickly and efficiently into your system.
A powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, spirulina is a blue-green algae rich in protein, vitamins and minerals that can help protect cells from damage. The supergreen packs a punch, brimming with nutrients including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). Early studies suggest spirulina possesses antiviral properties and may help to boost the immune system, as well as protect against allergic reactions. A number of animal and test tube studies have also found that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins and cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection.
Fish Oil is one of those holy grail supplements; not only is it great for helping cognition and brain function, but it also offers so many benefits for immunity. It’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for general health. Supplementing Fish Oil can boost your immune system to prevent winter illnesses arising, and it helps the body fight inflammation (which can often be caused by a winter related illness). On top of this, it can also boost your mood which is perfect if you find yourself suffering from the blues over these dreary cold months!
Add this to the list of things you learned today: garlic is an incredible natural immunity booster. Not only is garlic a flavoursome kitchen staple and vampire-repellent, for centuries it’s been hailed as the “elixir of health”. The toxin-fighting clove was famously used to keep the plague at bay, kick the common cold and to prevent gangrene in both world wars. One clove contains 5 mg of calcium, 12 mg of potassium and more than 100 sulfuric compounds – powerful enough to wipe out bacteria and infection. However, if you want to reap the full benefits raw garlic, not cooked, is most beneficial for health. Heat and water can reduce garlic’s antibiotic effects.
Interested in boosting your immune system even more? Try exercising outside in winter!