With six days till Christmas, life is busy, adrenaline (and cortisol) is running high and we are all trying to juggle a million balls at once. Christmas is often a time when most of us want to recharge and relax after a long and busy year, but in reality, a great number of people fall ill and spend Christmas nurturing a cold, viral or bacterial infection. So, in order to boost your immune system over this coming festive period, I am sharing 5 easy ways in which you can ease the heavy burden of your immune system.
1. SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDLY BACTERIA
Around 70% of your immune system is located within the gut, so keeping beneficial bacteria levels healthy and topped up is especially important to support immune function this Christmas. Probiotics are live organisms that reside in your gastrointestinal tract and like with all living things, probiotics need to be fed in order to remain active and healthy.
The way in which you feed your friendly bacteria, is by eating prebiotic foods such as chicory, garlic, onion, artichoke, asparagus and banana. Including these foods into your diet on a daily basis will act as the perfect fertiliser for your friendly bacteria.
Providing good bacteria to the gut is easily done by including fermented foods such as plain ‘live’ yoghurts, coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha, which will all nourish your immune system.
If you would like to supplement, then choose a multi-strain of beneficial bacteria, as bacterial flora actually works best in synergy. Choosing a probiotic with multiple strains containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus will offer significantly more support than a single strain probiotic. For children, you may want to consider adding in Lactobacillus Rhamnosus.
Some good options are:
Wild Nutrition – Multi Strain Biotic
Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotic
Biocare – Red Berry Biomelts (perfect for children)
2. BOOST YOUR B VITAMINS
People commonly fall ill when they are overtired and overworked, but nutrients that support your nervous system and adrenal glands will help nourish a worn-out body. B vitamins are particularly helpful for supporting recovery from fatigue and boosting energy. Good natural sources of B vitamins are found in green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens), asparagus, brussels sprouts, lettuce, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, fish, eggs, poultry and meat. Make sure to stock up this season and really focus on increasing vegetable intake to at least 7 portions a day.
3. BOOST YOUR VITAMIN C INTAKE
The body cannot manufacture its own Vitamin C, so it is important that we consistently top up our levels of Vitamin C with food. Vitamin C is best known for its powerful anti-oxidant properties, which protects us against free radical damage and thereby support immune function. Incorporate foods like, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, dark green leafy vegetables, pineapple and berries to increase your levels.
4. BOOST YOUR ANTI-OXIDANTS
Antioxidants, are what I call the little miracle workers in your body. They fight off the pesky bad guys, aka free radicals, that are continually assaulting your immune system. Without antioxidants, your body can’t thrive or survive for that matter. The good news is that it is easy to incorporate delicious antioxidants into your diet this Christmas. Ground spices such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and turmeric, and dried thyme, oregano, rosemary all contain amazing antioxidant properties, which can boost your immune system this Christmas. You can add a little cinnamon to your porridge in the morning, maybe enjoy a delicious golden milk or enjoy a few homemade curries where you can incorporate these beautiful spices.
5. BOOST YOUR FLUID INTAKE
Last and definitely not least, is to ensure that you are drinking enough fluids this Christmas period, and I am not referring to prosecco and wine here ;-)), but water, herbal teas, hot water and lemon, whatever works for you. The majority of us will be enjoying some prosecco, wine, beer, spirits, coffee and tea over the festive period, which all act as diuretics and thereby removing water from the body. Staying hydrated will support detoxification and digestion and ultimately support your immune function. Aim for at least 8 glasses of herbal tea, water or similar.
Most of all find time to hygge, relax, laugh with friends and family and enjoy this festive period. Wishing you all a beautiful, relaxing and healthy Christmas.