This cold and flu season is a doozy! I have had many people coming into the ATUNE Herbal Dispensary for advice on supporting their immune system this winter.
While supplementation and herbal support can be beneficial, there are plenty of things you can do for yourself to support good health and resilience this season.
Get some sunshine
Vitamin D is essential for health and is especially important for bone health and immunity. In
Australia, many people get adequate Vitamin D through summer when the UV is high, simply by
being outdoors in the sun. However, during the cold winter months, many of us simply don’t get enough sun to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D. This is easy to remedy. Simply spend time outdoors in the middle of the day with some skin uncovered in the cooler months to boost your Vitamin D and support good immunity. A total of 2-3 hours spread over a week can be enough
with face and arms exposed. No sun protection is necessary when UV is under 3 as it is in Australian winters. However, it’s good to know that if your Vitamin D levels are very low, supplementation is easy and safe.
A healthy, balanced diet goes a long way towards promoting good health all year round.
- Prioritise fresh fruits and vegetables
- Choose healthy wholegrains
- Include fish, lean meat, legumes, and nuts
- Choose good fats like olive oil
- Limit refined sugar, processed foods, and red meat
- Added probiotic and prebiotic foods and broths can be extra beneficial.
Eating a variety of wholefoods helps create a healthy microbiome (good gut bacteria) that can improve immunity and speed up recovery time if you do become unwell.
Ensure you are drinking plenty of good clean water. It sometimes feels harder to do this in cooler
months. Did you know pure herbal teas (unlike caffeinated drinks) count toward your water
intake? So, pop the kettle on and keep your fluids up.
Most adults function best with 7-9 hours of sleep a night. A consistent sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene can encourage a good night’s rest.
Some tips include:
- Limit screen use for 1 hour before bed.
- Reduce caffeine intake after 2pm.
- Morning exercise to help balance circadian rhythms.
- Create a soothing bedtime routine – reading, herbal tea, etc
Our immune systems have reduced ability to effectively fight infections when we are chronically stressed. This is because of the stress hormone cortisol. Managing stress can be easier said than done, however having some healthy habits in place can help.
These could include:
- Meditation – even just 10 mins 3 times a week can help lower cortisol
- Healthy hobbies
- Talking with a friend
- Some simple breathing exercises to help when stress is high.
Get some exercise
Keeping your body moving helps improve mood, promote good sleep, improve heart health, lung function and reduce inflammation, but it also has a direct effect on immune cells. Regular moderate exercise is associated with improved resistance to infection. Physical activity does not have to mean lengthy runs or heavy weights, trying to move your body in some way every day helps. Brisk walks, gentle stretches and taking the stairs rather than the lift add some movement into each day.
When you need extra support
There are many supplements that have shown good results for improving immune function and improving recovery rates. Supplements to consider include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, or Herbal medicines to give your immune system an extra boost. Echinacea, Astragalis and Tulsi are some herbs that have shown immune enhancing properties and supplementing with an herbal tonic can complement this overall picture of immune support.
Visit the ATUNE Herbal Dispensary to discuss what extra immune support may be suitable for you.
Photo by Stephan H. on Unsplash
Written by: Elizabeth Cooper.