Written by the Good Health team.
It only takes 21 days to make or break a habit. This winter, why not set yourself a personal goal to make some good ones. Adopting some of the next seven habits could be the difference between getting bogged down with a cold and escaping winter unscathed…
Two thirds of your body is made of water, so keeping hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Dehydration symptoms range from headaches to nausea to fatigue, but the effects of dehydration on your immune system are not always as obvious. Staying hydrated keeps the mucus membranes moist, which keeps the immune system functioning optimally. Unfortunately, lattes and wine don’t count, but upping your intake of herbal tea (and of course water) is incredibly beneficial. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. You’ll notice the difference!
Over the last 30 years, systematic scientific studies have confirmed that poor nutrition impairs the immune response. Fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes or pulses are full of immune-boosting properties and antioxidants. Nature provides fresh seasonal foods to compensate for what our bodies are lacking at that time of year. For example, citrus fruits that are in season throughout winter are full of Vitamin C.
Although short periods of stress can actually be good for us (particularly when we have a work deadline) long-term chronic stress actually lowers our immunity, making us more susceptible to colds and flu (not to mention depression and anxiety). We all have our own ways of coping and reducing stress so whether it’s taking a bath, going to the gym, getting outdoors in the garden or having fun with the kids, do something to unwind. Not only are you doing your adrenal glands a favour, you’re also reducing your chances of being struck down by the latest virus. If you feel you need some supplement help, magnesium soothes the nerves, whilst adaptogen herbs like Siberian ginseng, Withania and Rhodiola Rosea help your body adapt to both physical and mental stress, while also increasing your immune support. Good Health Stress and Vitality Support also supports the body’s natural resistance and adaptation to stress and nervous tension.
Simple prevention methods are often overlooked, but things like washing your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds (and ensuring they are thoroughly dry) helps to prevent the spread of germs and control infection. If you need to cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin. Just be mindful for a few weeks and soon it will become second nature.
During winter our natural Vitamin D supply from the sun diminishes due to spending less time outdoors. The best form is Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) but you can still top up your Vitamin D levels with dietary sources like cod liver oil, butter, egg yolk, milk and sprouted seeds, although this will only provide about 10% of your necessary intake. Unlike other vitamins, Vitamin D is produced in the body when it’s exposed to adequate, direct sunlight so deficiency is very common during the winter months.
Sleep is essential for your body to rest, repair and rejuvenate. (Don’t you find you always tend to look your best after a good night’s sleep?) The human growth hormone that’s released during sleep helps repair your body at a cellular level, but it’s also beneficial for the immune system. Interrupted sleep (or just not enough of it) significantly reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, particularly the natural killer cells, which is your body’s first line of defence against germs.
Cook with onions, garlic, ginger, black peppercorn, cayenne pepper, all spices, curry powder, and turmeric. Herbs and spices are used in a lot of natural remedies and can help to boost your immune system, reduce inflammation and clear your nasal passages.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you can still get hit with something nasty. If that happens, here are a few actions you can take to help your body recover quicker:
Good Health is a proudly New Zealand operated business, started over a quarter of a century ago by John Blanchard. At Good Health, we understand how the power of nature can boost your body’s natural immunity and support systems, enhancing your health and vitality.