Preparing for Winter: The Importance of Building Immunity

Preparing for Winter: The Importance of Building Immunity

Author -  Good Health

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Eat from a rainbow plate

Full of nutrients, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, a rainbow plate not only looks good, it helps to strengthen the immune system. As more pressure is placed on the immune system, your body needs more nutrients. Fresh fruit and vegetables provide essential nutrients that are important for fighting infections. Choosing multi-coloured seasonal fruit and vegetables that have travelled a smaller distance, will offer a nutrient dense plate for stronger immune support. 

Vitamin C is one nutrient that is crucial for a strong immune system. Found in capsicum, kiwifruit and broccoli, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage and boosts the production of our immune cells. Vitamin C also helps our body to absorb iron, which supports oxygen levels in immune cells so that they can function at their best. 

Another crucial nutrient needed for a strong immune system is zinc. Found in spinach, pumpkin seeds and mushrooms, zinc is essential to a range of immune cells. Zinc provides our immune system with antiviral support, aids wound repair, and assists the normal growth of cells for their proper functioning. 

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Exercise regularly

Regular exercise throughout the year improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure and can help to regulate the immune system. Research suggests regular exercise helps to reduce the number of colds and flus faced each year, not only because it helps to strengthen the immune system, but exercise helps to flush out toxins too. 

When you are suffering from an illness however, do not try to push through. Intense exercise can impair your immune system when it is already under pressure. A gentle walk when unwell can help to flush out the lymphatic system and put you back on the road to recovery. 

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Get adequate sleep

If we do not sleep for long enough each night, not only is our mood and cognition compromised, our immune system is too. It is during sleep that our cells undergo repair, making sleep crucial for everyday function. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, so that your immune system can work optimally and you can feel your best. If you are having trouble sleeping, magnesium taken as a supplement or in an Epsom salt bath may help to relax your nervous system for a more restorative sleep.

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Keep stress levels low

No matter what the stressor, a stressed body or mind affects our health and exhausts our immune system. During times of stress, huge amounts of cortisol is released, which depletes our vitamin C levels. Vitamin C is crucial to our immune system and as we cannot produce it internally, our need for dietary and supplemental vitamin C increases enormously when we are stressed.

While we may not be able to control stressors, we can change how our nervous system responds to them. Work on stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness, for a stronger immune system.

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Look to nature for extra support

Herbs such as olive leaf, garlic and echinacea help to support the immune system by reducing the chances of catching an illness, and the duration that it persists. Herbs can provide extra support for someone wanting to strengthen their immune system and offer an array of mutual benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Pre-and-probiotics too have an essential role in maintaining a strong immune system, with 80% of the immune system found in the gut. An imbalance in gut bacteria can lead to infections, so ensure you are consuming fermented foods or taking a pre-and-probiotic supplement to introduce the proper good bacteria needed in the gut for a healthy immune system. 

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Your immune system works all year round to protect you, however it largely goes unnoticed until it is overwhelmed. As we age, the capability of our immune response becomes reduced, and the need for support increases. Taking care of our immune system is not only important so that we minimise the risk of colds and flus during the year, it is also critical for the prevention of more serious diseases. Take care of your immune system and adopt healthy living strategies, so that you can protect your health for a happier, healthier today, and tomorrow.

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