5 top immunity-boosting hacks from a dietitian

The VITL Nutrition Team / Oct 31, 2018

Georgie Murphy, VITL's in-house dietician, wants you to know these 5 top hacks when it comes to boosting your immunity so you can stay sniffle-free this winter.

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Sadly summer has bid us goodbye and instead winter is fast approaching. With the ice-cold winds and dark evenings, winter also brings with it an increased risk of colds and flu, meaning you should try your best to ensure your immune system is in good nick.

Here are some quick hacks on how to boost your immune system in preparation for the winter season ahead.

1. Sleep 

Sleep is a complex phenomenon and research is still trying to uncover more about what happens in our brain and body when we sleep. A large body of evidence links sleep to the health of our immune system. In fact, a lack of sleep can find us more prone to colds and flu as it hinders our body’s ability to fight infection. With winter nearly upon us, getting your sleep is more important than ever. It's important to note that the ideal temperature for sleep is 16-18°C, so whilst it may be tempting to crank up the heating in a bid to fend off the cold outside, don’t crank it too high!

2. Diet

Your body contains trillions of bacteria, most of which are beneficial. The densest population can be found in your gut, and are thought to play a role not only in digestion but also immune function! Feeding these “good” bacteria with the right foods is particularly important if you want to help your body fight off a winter flu. Try including fermented foods such as natural yoghurt, kefir and kombucha to boost the good bacteria in your gut.

Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells (also known as leukocytes). These are cells from your immune system that help to fight infectious disease and foreign invaders. Foods such as red peppers, kiwis, kale and broccoli are particularly high in vitamin C.

3. Hydration

We often associate dehydration with hot weather, however, it’s just as important to maintain your hydration levels during winter. Just think, how many hot caffeinated drinks do you have during the colder months? And how often do you find yourself boosting the central heating? In fact, it’s especially important to maintain your hydration during winter as staying hydrated helps your body eliminate toxins and waste materials, which is important for the immune system. Try to avoid too many caffeinated drinks that can lead to increased urination and dehydration, instead try lemon, ginger and turmeric in hot water! It will still keep you cosy in the winter months but will also help to fight off illness! 

4. Exercise

Yes, it’s cold outside, but don’t let that deter you from getting your exercise in. Invest in some winter thermals and get your body moving because research continues to support the link between regular exercise and a healthy immune system. Exercise promotes blood circulation and this keeps the white blood cells and antibodies (cells of your immune system) moving around your body, detecting and attacking bacteria and viruses.

Moving your body creates the conditions for the body to breathe, stretch, circulate and sweat. All of which are mechanisms that help to remove unwanted toxins from the body. Toxins are also stored in the fatty tissue of the body, and so when fatty tissue is reduced as a result of exercise, these toxins are released and eliminated through cleansing organs such as the lungs, kidneys and liver.

5. Supplements

Whilst we can try to give our body everything it needs to keep our immune system fighting fit, it’s not always easy or possible! Supplementing alongside a healthy diet can give your immunity a much-needed boost, this is something especially important to consider as winter approaches. 

Vitamin D: Vitamin D receptors are actually expressed on our immune cells, and are involved in the regulation of the essential and adaptive immune responses. Usually, we can do quite well getting our vitamin D from the sun, but during winter our exposure to daylight is somewhat decreased, particularly with dropping temperatures. 

Zinc: an essential mineral that serves as an antioxidant in the body, crucial for the normal development and function of cells that mediate the immune system. Zinc has also been shown to reduce the duration of colds, as well as prevent you from getting one in the first place!

CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10): an antioxidant found in almost all living things, used by our cells to process energy and function properly. CoQ10 actually plays a significant role in boosting the immune system by supplying energy to the cells and tissues involved in immune function.  

Omega 3may enhance the function of immune cells, also thought to prevent disease by reducing inflammation throughout the body. 

These key immune-boosting nutrients can be found in our personalised packs. Take your free online consultation to determine which nutrients your body needs, so you can feel 100% better more often.