Boost your immune system this winter

Winter can feel like a difficult time to be at your best. With minimal sunlight, gale-force winds and colds spreading faster than you can say “bless you”, your immune system can feel at its least robust. But why does this happen, and what can we do to stop it?

Why is my immune system worse in the winter?

We may not have listened when our mothers told us to put on another layer, lest we ‘catch a cold’, but it does seem that the winter can bring with it illness and fatigue.

There are established links between the cold and becoming ill; some studies suggest the cold can weaken immune systems, but it also huddles us indoors and exposes us to more germs and viruses.

Christmas can be demanding with parties, shopping and work deadlines, with little respite before it’s back to business as usual in January. More than just making you tired, this kind of stress can actually make you more susceptible to falling ill. Higher blood pressure and digestive disturbances caused by stress can both make you more vulnerable as a result of the winter rush.

You may find a lack of sleep is also making you feel weak in the face of infection, and you’d be right. Studies have found that sleep deprivation limits your body’s ability to ward off infection, and can even mean it takes longer to recover.

What can I do about it?

The good news is there are lots of ways to combat these affronts on your immune system.

Our lifestyle habits are one surefire way to keep our bodies protected, including ensuring we get as close to eight hours of sleep a night for recovery.

Making time to exercise regularly is also beneficial for boosting your immune system and making you feel better, just be careful not to overdo it.

Diet has a really important role to play. Vitamin C rich foods, such as citrus fruits and chillis, can reduce the duration of your colds and may even help stop you getting them in the first place. We also recommend eating garlic, as the bulbs have germ-fighting properties and give your immune system a boost.

As we know, probiotics are also key to keeping a healthy gut and biome, which can in turn help fight against infection. Liz’s Good Gut Guide has lots of recipes and advice to make sure you’re boosting your immune system.

Will vitamins help immunity?

If you want to make sure you’re pampering your immune system, we recommend getting enough of the crucial vitamins.

The short days mean that you may not be getting enough Vitamin D, which reduces your risk of flu. It’s vital that that you keep on top of your vitamin D3 – Better You is one brand that offers an easy way to get your vitamin D through an oral spray. It also makes its packaging out of ocean waste as an added bonus!

If you’re feeling a bit snowed under and are looking for something to help with your sleep and mood, Saffrosun is an effective natural supplement for improving psychological balance, which we love here at Liz Earle Wellbeing. (You may have heard Liz talking on her Friday Five podcast).

Finally, maintaining a healthy gut is key to keeping well in the winter. Build up good gut bacteria with probiotics, or live drinks and snacks such as kefir, kombucha and kimchi.

A really great probiotic is BioKult – the multi-strain formula helps to diversify your gut bacteria and the capsules are amazing for on-the-go illness prevention at this hectic time of year.

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