Health & Fitness

Your winter wellness checklist

Much has been written this year about keeping our immune systems in good condition, and it is something I’m asked about regularly in clinic. Even if your immune system is compromised there are things you can do as a self-help measure.

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Look after your Gut

It is said that 80% of our immune system resides in the cells that line our gut. This means we need to eat plenty
of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep our immune systems humming along. Rich in vitamins and minerals, choose whatever fruit and veg is in season and organic if possible.
Fill half of your plate with vegetables or fruit and try to ‘Eat the Rainbow’ – each colour brings its own benefits and the wider the diversity, the better for your gut bugs.

Get your vitamin D levels checked
Along with good gut health, vitamin D is the cornerstone of a strong immune system. During a UK winter, there is simply not enough sunshine to make vitamin D through the skin (how we normally obtain vitamin D, though we can get a small amount through certain foods). This means that we should all supplement through the winter. This is also recommended by the NHS, although the amount they recommend is barely enough to maintain current levels.
In studies, vitamin D deficient individuals were found to be at higher risk of COVID-19 infection compared to vitamin D sufficient patients.

An optimum level of vitamin D is between 75nmol/L and 100nmol/L. You can get an at- home test for £29 https://www. vitamindtest.org.uk/ and you can calculate how much you may need here. You can read more about the importance of vitamin D in an article I wrote last year here.

Sleep

Disordered sleep promotes inflammation, and healthy sleep supports an anti-viral immune response. As part of your wind down routine, deploy the two- hour rule for healthy sleep:

• Leave two hours between eating and drinking before bed

• Leave a two-hour gap before intense exercise and bed
• No devices two hours before bed and start to reduce your exposure to light.

Stress

Stress chemistry is inherently inflammatory. Cortisol is released in response to
stress and it has an immune suppressive action. We all have stress in our lives, some of it useful, but we can certainly help ourselves by:

• switching off the news and limiting social media.

• Take time to relax and laugh • Find one thing a day that brings you joy.

Reduce things that may depress your immune system Sugar, refined processed foods, alcohol and cigarettes all rob the body of nutrients, create inflammation, damage your gut and give you nothing in return.

Exercise

Inactivity is associated with a higher incidence of infection, slower recovery and poor antibody response. Try to get outdoors in the fresh air, even if just for a daily walk. Be aware that excessive exercise can lower immunity, so be sure to find balance.

by Karen Geary, a Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, mBANT, CNHC at Amplify

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