Supporting Your Immune System
With Jacqui Hagidimitriou, Nutritionist and Pharmacist
The weather is getting colder, we are allowed to travel a bit further and do a few more activities and for many, the question still remains, “how can I best support my immune system to prevent infection?”. As a Nutritionist and Pharmacist, I know that getting the balance right can be difficult, so I’ve put together some tips to help you stay well this winter:
Eat a colourful diet
(No I don’t mean artificial colours) – Did you know that different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different beneficial food chemicals? It’s important to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables – aim for 5 serves of vegetables each day and 2 fruits. If you have kids, it can be fun to have a food colour chart on the wall and colour in the different shades of food you eat each day. It will surprise you how common it is just to eat the same foods every day, which doesn’t help give us the variety that our bodies need.
In a situation where our schedules have been greatly disrupted, it’s harder to stick to a routine. Sleep is vital to our immune system functioning correctly and the timing of when we sleep is important, too! Try and get to bed before 11pm each night to get the most restful sleep. Try to relax your mind before bed by putting away brightly lit computer screens. Go old school and read a book!
Plan for Exercise
If you’re anything like me, exercise doesn’t come naturally, yet I always feel better after going for a walk in the fresh air. If I don’t plan it in, it doesn’t happen. Exercise is important to help reduce stress levels and increases our happy hormones. Too much vigorous exercise, however can have the opposite effect on our immune system. Plan to have days where light exercise replaces the heavy exercise, to allow your body to rest and restore.
Devote some time each day to relaxation
Looking after your mental health is really important for your overall health and is also important in ensuring your immune system is functioning optimally. Mindfulness has become a buzzword of late, with some positive and negative connotations. I prefer to think of mindfulness as picking something that you really love doing, that doesn’t involve a computer screen and doing that every day. It could be going for a walk, drawing or listening to music.
Maintain Your Hygiene Habits
There’s a reason why we’ve been so successful in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia. A lot has to do with our increased vigilance with hygiene. Now is the time to continue all the great hygiene practices we’ve gotten used to over the past few months, to keep everyone healthy. Remember to stay home if you are sick, wash your hands regularly, practice good cough etiquette and maintain safe distances.
What about supplements?
Nutritional supplements have a place in keeping us healthy, particularly if our diet is lacking in certain nutrients, however our first port of call should be to try and rectify what is lacking in our diet and address lifestyle issues that can be impacting on our overall health. Some supplements can be harmful long-term, so it is important that you get expert advice when taking additional supplements. Many supplements also will have similar ingredients, so it is possible to get too much of different nutrients by doubling up on supplements.
If you would like to hear more about nutrients and the immune system, check out this free webinar for more information. Alternatively, you can book a free 10 minute appointment with myself at The Clinic Hub.