SLOAN! asked nutritional therapist Jodie Brandman for her expert advice on how you can try to avoid seasonal bouts of cold and flu with some natural nutrition and seasonal lifestyle tips to help boost your immune system and keep you healthy this winter. Here’s what she had to say…
With winter lurking just around the corner and the thick jumpers being pulled out from the depths of our wardrobes, there are some things we can start doing to prepare our bodies for the colder months. Autumn and winter is a time when viruses are on the prowl, but if we take some precautions early, we can ward off those nasty cold and flu symptoms and be in amazing shape for the party season. Here are my top tips for a healthy winter immune system:
1. Eat More Garlic
This may sound a little odd, but believe it or not, garlic is antibacterial and one of natures’ most potent antibiotics. Adding a couple of cloves to your meals can really help toughen your insides up, and if you’re brave enough, adding raw garlic into a morning green smoothie can be doubly as effective.
2. Seek out Probiotics
With around 80% of our immune system in our gut, looking after our tummy is vital. Good bacteria found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, or in a good probiotic supplement can help strengthen our gut and in turn prepare it for dealing with any bugs that may come its way.
3. Add in Turmeric
This yellow spice has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine for its powerful healing and anti-inflammatory properties. To give your body some ancient love, try adding the powder into your food, or making “golden lattes” with the grated fresh root.
4. Stay Hydrated
Whilst it may not seem as important to drink water in the cold season compared to the summer months, water is vital for flushing viruses and other toxins out your body. Aim for 1-2 litres of water a day, preferably filtered and at room temperature for a gentle effect on your digestive system.
5. Have Extra Vitamin C
It’s well known that vitamin C is essential to fight any infection and kill off a cold, but rather than getting medication, you can turn to natural fruits and vegetables to provide you with a healthy dosage. Dark leafy greens, peppers, citrus fruits and tomatoes are high in vitamin C, or if you’re looking for a extra strength superfood powder to add into your morning shakes, try camu camu or goji berry, which are some of the highest vitamin C- rich foods on the planet!
6. Get Yourself Moving
Not only does sweating help to release toxins from our system, keeping us nice and healthy, but moving our body 30 minutes a day 3 – 4 times a week has been shown to directly boost the immune system. You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym to have a positive impact on your body though, just make sure you find something you enjoy that gets you into a bit of a sweat.
7. Up the Ginger
Ginger is fantastic if you have stomach issues or feel a sore throat coming on. It can also encourage perspiration, meaning that it can help you sweat out any toxins a little better. Try grating ginger into your meals or smoothies, or even steep a inch of the fresh root into some hot water for a nourishing tea.
8. Add in Healing Herbs and Medicinal Mushrooms
Reishi, Siberian Ginseng, Chaga and Echinacea are all fantastic herbs that have been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. They are rich in antioxidants, and some of the chemical compounds have even been found to directly stimulate the immune system, fighting infections in the body. You can find these herbs either in tincture or powder form that you can add into drinks or food. As a side note, these herbs also have fantastic skin enhancing qualities, so you can kiss goodbye to the winter dullness!
9. Reduce sugar
Although the cold months seem perfect to cozy up with hot chocolate and marshmallows, sugary foods can actually put a big strain on our immune system and prevent it from fighting infection effectively. If you want to really feel your best, now is the time to switch to healthier comfort foods and more natural sweeteners like fruit, coconut sugar, honey or dates.
10. Make Sure You’re Sleeping
Sleep is a time when our bodies repair and detoxify, so making sure you have enough sleep is just as important as getting good nutrition into your life. Aim for about 8 hours sleep a night and try to avoid any screens or stimulating environments for at least half an hour before you go to bed for maximum restoration.
About Jodie Brandman
Jodie Brandman BSc DipION, is a Nutritional Therapist and founder of Sweetly Simple. Whilst at university she learnt about macrobiotics which change her outlook towards food. Through traditional views on wellness she learnt about the healing properties of food and how the body loves balance. From there, she went on to study functional medicine and qualify as a nutritional therapist, which has open her eyes to how healing really occurs. Over the past few years Jodie has experimented with different dietary approaches like the raw food movement and is now enjoying a plant-based lifestyle, which forms the basis of her work. To find out more, please visit www.sweetlysimple.co.uk