With the cooler weather now upon us, we generally see an increase in colds and flu. You can certainly increase your chance of avoiding colds and flu this winter by having a stronger immune system.
If you are run down, stressed and getting caught up in a busy lifestyle, then it is even more important to take care of yourself and ensure you are eating correctly and have the strongest immune system you can.
Eighty percent of the immune system surrounds the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria in the gut communicate with the immune system as to what is friend or foe, so making sure that what you eat nourishes the body and the integrity and health of the bacteria in the gut is key to keeping the immune system working well.
9 Winter Habits To Help Keep Your Immune System Strong
Here are a few things to do to help your immune system and the health of your gut bacteria:
1. Stay away from processed foods. Most processed foods are filled with ingredients that your body cannot use, they become toxic and weaken the immune system.
2. Eat foods from your local farmers market. The foods will be seasonal, and they won’t have travelled a long distance, losing much of their goodness, and they will help strengthen your immune system.
3. Make sure you eat grass-fed meats, local and wild fish wild and free range chickens. Eat fish several times a week. Make up bone broths and make soups and stews from them or include lamb shanks and osso buco on a weekly basis.
4. If you love your dairy, try and buy as local as possible. If you are feeling a sniffle coming on, these foods are not wise to eat. The fat clogs up the immune system and creates a sluggishness that will not be helpful in preventing the cold or flu. But if you are feeling well, then good quality unprocessed dairy is a wonderful accompaniment to your diet. Fermented dairy is the best – natural yogurts, kefir, soft cheeses and most types of white cheeses. Also try different types of dairy, like buffalo, goat and sheep.
5. Fermented foods will ensure your gut bacteria are well fed – sauerkraut, kimchi, traditional pickles, apple cider vinegar, kumbucha or any traditional fermented food. Or use our real food Changing Habits Probiotics.
6. The addition of foods that are high in vitamin C will also help the immune system. Changing Habits Camu Camu is one of the highest food sources of vitamin C. It is 460 times higher in vitamin C than the average orange and is surrounded by other nutrients that help you use the vitamin C in the food. Nature is put together perfectly to help us use the nutrients in a mutually beneficial way. Avoid products that include calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate which are produced in a laboratory.
Camu Camu can be mixed with water, your favourite fresh juice, or added to a smoothie or even a raw slice. For a great tasting snack for the whole family, including the kids, try our Immune Boosting Gummies or our Camu Camu Citrus Slice – yum!
Camu Camu is also included in our Immune Boost Pack.
7. Hot drinks are invaluable during the winter months. Many herbs that can be steeped in tea enhance the immune system. Go to your local specialty tea shop and ask them for a mix that supports your needs. My favourite is ginger, chili and lemongrass – these I pick from my garden.
8. Sleep in the winter is very important, it is a time for the body to heal. Bright lights after 9pm should be dimmed and try not to put monitors close to your eyes. A dim TV as opposed to a bright lap top will help your melatonin (the sleeping/healing hormone) to increase after sunset.
9. It is important to exercise. If you have a desk job, every hour just get up and stretch for a couple of minutes. If you are constantly on your feet, keep up the wonderful movement.
Happy Winter Eating!
PS – Chicken soup strengthens the immune system – Grandma was right! Here’s my favourite chicken soup recipe.
4 chicken thighs with bones
1 large brown onion – peeled and chopped finely
1 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
2 large Australian garlic cloves – finely chopped
6 sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves picked, stalked discarded
1 tsp Changing Habits Peppercorns
3 tbs finely chopped freshly parsley
2 litres of filtered water
1 tsp Changing Habits Seaweed Salt
Place the chicken, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, thyme and water in a large saucepan with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Using tongs transfer the chicken onto a clean work bench and cut the meat away from the bone. Discard the bones.
Finely chop the chicken and add back to the pot. Taste and season with salt. Pour into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve.
This article was previously published in 2015.