Winter is rapidly approaching, and with this means more indoor gatherings which we all know makes it easier for germs to spread making us vulnerable to becoming ill more frequently. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, magic pill, or food that will boost your immune system. It is a combination of things that will best serve you well.
Eating a varied and balanced diet of plant food, nuts, pulses, wholegrains, a wide variety of vegetables, the brighter coloured the better, e.g., carrots, kale, chard, spinach, beetroot, butternut squash, full fat natural yoghurt, (I recommend Greek yoghurt as it is high in protein and will leave you feeling fuller for longer) wholegrains, nuts and seeds or defrosted berries which can be lovely sprinkled on a hot bowl of cooked porridge oats and )a perfect way to start a winters morning), cheese, fish, low fat cuts of meat and plant alternatives.
Supplements are not all they're cracked out to be and it's much better for your body to get the vitamins we need from natural food sources. Vitamin C, B6. D and B12, iron, zinc which can all be gained from a varied and balanced diet. It can be too easy to overdose on supplements, some people think the more the better but actually it can be detrimental to your health by taking too much. Vitamin D however is different, especially living in Nidderdale where we don't see a lot of sun (this summer being the exception to the rule) we can only get vitamin D form the sun, so a supplement is infact encouraged by most if not all doctors I think, certainly for the winter months.
It is tempting to eat more sugary foods and high GI stodgy foods like chips or white pasta and potatoes when you don't feel like eating salad or fruit or vegetables. If you feel yourself craving these foods, it may be that you are lacking in something, and your body is looking for a quick pick me up, avoid having these foods in your home and go for a high protein snack instead, protein staves off hunger and sugar cravings and will help towards your daily protein goal.
Remember Lockdown and the 1 hour daily walk outdoor exercise a day rule? Honestly, the only time I have seen so many people out at one time was when I lived in London and used to go shopping in Oxford Street on Saturdays. We were told getting out in the fresh air and getting exercise and losing weight would give us our best chance of beating covid. I remember seeing everyone outside between 12 and 2 pm walking.
Now we have our freedom back let's enjoy it and remember what it felt like when there were no Covid vaccinations, don't use winter as an excuse to stay at home and watch TV and laze around, get outside for brisk walks go and visit new places, if it's a bright day why not drive to coast and go for a walk along the cliff tops and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Or visit an outdoor attraction which involves walking around or visit somewhere you haven't been before. Google is a great place to find new walks that are the perfect intensity and distance for you.
Energy bills are increasing, even with the governments support and getting outside in the fresh air and enjoying some exercise will help warm you up, save you money on heating, boost your energy, boost your mood which has also been proven to boost immune systems.
Most of us don't get enough sleep. On average most people only get around 6 hours a night whereas 8 or 9 hours is recommended! Not only is getting enough sleep important for our immune system, but it's also very important in easing anxiety and mental wellbeing. Work backwards from what time you'll be getting up in the morning to find your actual time you want to be asleep but be realistic. Turn on do not disturb on your phone for a set time so you are or distracted by noise or text messages or alerts. Try mediation before bed, this is a lovely way to unwind your mind, but do sit up and do this or you may fall asleep and miss out on the wonderful benefits of mediation.
Spending time doing things we enjoy is a great stress reliever and endorphin booster. It releases stress, boosts our immune system.
Alcohol, Sugar and Cigarettes
Sugar and starchy food causes inflammation in the body and is stored as fat around the abdominal area increasing your chances of coronary heart disease and at a greater risk of disease. If you are a sugar lover, then cut down and try and see it as a treat. The dangers of smoking and alcohol are well known and if they can't be avoided all together then minimise.
written by Joanna Boyes
owner of Nidderdale Fitness
Personal Training, Pilates and Yin Yoga