It’s that time of year again; with both lifestyle and environmental factors impacting our immune function, leaving us more likely to feel run down in the winter months.
This year adds a whole new level of challenge as we all work our hardest to stay healthy and protect ourselves and our families in light of COVID-19.
Although as we know, our diet and lifestyle choices cannot prevent us from catching COVID-19, the link between poor health and the body’s response when suffering from the virus makes the decision to prioritise our overall wellbeing somewhat more appealing.
So, how can we maintain a healthy functioning immune system, now and going forward?
Our immune system develops and changes throughout our lifetime, and our environment, diet and lifestyle choices can play a part in altering it. Although it’s a common phrase, we cannot actually ‘boost’ our immune system, but support its functioning through a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
Where to start?
Our dietary choices can play a part in our immune health. Working to include a combination of key vitamins including Vitamin C and Vitamin A can be a great place to start.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables such as peppers, kiwis, broccoli and citrus fruits.
‘Vitamin A deficiency has been associated with a weaker immune system and a higher risk of infection.’ Sources of Vitamin A include: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale.
Adding these key vitamins to a well balanced diet rich in whole foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables could be a beneficial step when working to maintain a well balanced immune system.
Alongside our dietary choices, a healthy gut can contribute to a healthy functioning immune system as 70% of our immune cells live in our gut. Healthy gut microbes train our immune system to respond to threats, working to support it to fight off potential diseases or illness that our bodies can pick up every day. Because the gut and the immune system are co-dependent it makes sense to make gut health more of a priority. Working to prioritise a variety of fibre rich, colourful food, eating slowly and mindfully and managing stress can all work as gut nourishing tools. When our gut is unable to function at its best, it is less able to support the functioning of our immune system, making it more likely for us to feel rundown.
Healthy lifestyle choices can contribute to a healthy functioning immune system, and one of the main areas we can focus on is our sleep. Lack of sleep can make it more difficult to fight infection. ‘Getting 5 hours of sleep per night or less makes us around 4x more likely to catch a cold than getting 8 hours!’ Developing a bedtime routine which helps you to wind down before bed and working to get a restful 8 hours could be a great way to support your immune system, alongside your overall health.
Here at the Garden we make seasonal changes to our menu to provide you with healthy options all year round! See below some of my favourite menu items which (alongside other lifestyle factors) could contribute to supporting healthy immune function.
Winter Bowl: Filled with wholegrains and colourful fibre, the gut nourishing benefits from this dish could have a beneficial impact on immune function.
Buddha Bowl: Rich in zinc, along with ‘gut friendly’ wholegrains, pulses and garlic – this meal is a definite winter warmer, packed with quality nutrients!
Thrive: The combination of Vitamins A and C in this drink could work as a great addition to your diet, particularly in the winter months!
Be sure to check out our Autumn / Winter menu for more nutritious meals, juices and hot tonics to keep you feeling healthy over the months ahead!
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development.
We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.
References / Reading to support blog:
Maeve Hanan – Immune system
Dr Megan Rossi – Gut Health
Matthew Walker - Sleep