The festive season is well and truly underway. What with the late nights, excess alcohol, mince pie consumption and cold weather our immune systems are much more likely to become compromised. As nutrition plays a key role in strengthening the immune system, I’ve shared my top tips to help boost your immune system this Christmas.
1. Load up on your fruit and veg
Fruit and vegetables are great sources of vitamin C which is a potent antioxidant. This means it helps to neutralise free radicals (unstable chemical compounds which can cause damage to our cells). Vitamin C also helps to support the epithelial barrier function. This is a layer of cells which protects the body from external bacteria.
2. Look after your gut
The gut contains billions of different bacteria which teach the immune system to differentiate the good from the bad. Make sure you’re looking after your gut with an array of prebiotic (beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables) and probiotic (yoghurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir) foods.
3. Get your daily dose of vitamin D
As vitamin D is synthesised by the sun, research shows higher vitamin D deficiencies in the UK during the winter. As a result, in 2016 the daily recommendations were changed to encourage supplementation of 10ųg.d. Research shows that vitamin D deficiency is linked to a reduced immune function; it is thought that vitamin D plays a role in producing T-cells which help to fight infection.
4. Snack on nuts (in moderation)
Nuts are a rich source of zinc. Zinc is a key micronutrient which helps to increase white blood cell count and ward off unwanted pathogens. Organ meats, beef, chicken, eggs and soy products are high in zinc too.
5. Hit the pillow earlier
Sleep is essential for restoring and revatlizing your body. Sleep deprivation has been linked to alterations in the immune response. Aim for 7-8 hours per night. If you struggle sleeping try an Epsom salt bath before hitting the pillow. The magnesium in the salts promotes muscle and nerve relaxation.
There you have my top 5 tips for supporting your immune system among the festive celebrations.