Normal function of the immune system relies on several essential nutrients that unfortunately many people don’t get enough of in their diet. Both zinc and vitamin C are involved in the production and activity of immune cells and together, these nutrients support immune health by aiding the management of upper respiratory tract infections, relieving symptoms, reducing severity and enabling faster recovery.
Naturally acidic, high doses of vitamin C supplementation may cause stomach upset so look for a supplement that contains buffered forms of vitamin C such as calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate.
More than 75 per cent of our immune cells reside in the gut, so make sure you are supporting your gut microbiota (beneficial bacteria) with a healthy diet and by choosing a high-quality probiotic supplement, which may help support healthy immune function and reduce the risk of winter-ills.
When you are choosing a probiotic make sure the product contains scientifically researched strains of friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifido bacterium.
It’s likely no surprise that getting 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep may help boost your immune function and reduce your chances of getting sick this winter. However if you’re not getting enough sleep, try to take frequent breaks during the day and, if possible, spend some time in the sun.
While we’re more likely to be naturally low in vitamin D during the winter months, this vitamin has been shown to play a vital role in immunity and protection against colds and flu. Also consider taking a herbal supplement with a combination of ginseng. Known as adaptogens, research has shown Ginseng may boost energy and help the body to adapt to various stressors.
Ever wondered why you get sick at times that are the most inconvenient? Blame it on long-term stress which has been shown to reduce the function of the immune system. But it’s not all doom and gloom as many studies reveal how stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, spending time in nature, having fun and regular exercise, are effective tools for boosting the body’s resistance to stress and the winter blues.
During stressful times consider taking a combination of herbs such as Holy Basil (sometimes referred to as Sacred Basil or Tulsi), Withania and Magnolia, which in the traditional Chinese medicine, have been used to help manage stress symptoms.
Herbal medicine can be a powerful way to help boost your winter immunity. In traditional Western medicine, Elderflower has been used for mild upper respiratory infections and the management of mild fever. Elderflower also makes a delicious tea or is available as a supplement.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, a combination of herbs such as Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng and Reishi have been used to help support immune defence and enhance resistance to minor infections. At the first signs of a sore throat, fever, runny nose or mucous congestion, choose a formula with traditional Western and Chinese herbs such as Echinacea, Andrographis, Honeysuckle flower and Olive Leaf, used to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
Speak to your healthcare professional before taking any herbal products or supplements. Always read the label and use only as directed.