Nutritional therapist and former model Rosemary Ferguson on how to dose up your diet for a better, stronger immune system
Everyone I speak to at the moment is feeling run down. As the season changes and we move into winter, our immune system may be a little low and we are more susceptible to catching any bugs that are flying around. Here are some ideas that should help to keep you well through the winter months...
Top up your diet with proteins
Lean meats and oily fish, or lentils, pulses and beans which will help you fight off any incoming baddies.
Eat good fats
Nuts, seeds, avocados and fish will help keep inflammation down and therefore put less pressure on the immune system.
Increase your green veggie intake
Green vegetables will support your liver function, which is essential for removing any toxins from the body. Make sure you are eating plenty of foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, parsley and watercress.
Eat the rainbow
Brightly coloured fruit and veg are full of protective nutrients and antioxidants that will help keep you feeling well. Stock up on foods like sweet potato, blueberries, papaya, mango and blackberries which are particularly good immune boosters.
Drink green tea
Green powders are great for the immune system, especially chlorella and spirulina; include them in your daily diet or in a smoothie as they contain germanium which is wonderful for keeping illness at bay.
Get some kelp help
Kelp is another one that would be good to include in your diet; though I am not so keen on the taste it can be hidden in a smoothie. It contains iodine, iron and vitamin C to name a few that really help to keep us healthy.
Get some natural antioxidants
Herbs and remedies to keep in mind at this time of year are things like echinacea and astragalus - both of these boost our immune system and are packed with powerful antioxidants that protect our livers from toxins.
Nip illness in the bud
Herbs like rosemary and oregano are fantastic when you feel like you are coming down with something - they are antimicrobial and antibacterial. Wonderful in a tea or tincture.
Go big on garlic
Garlic is nature’s antibiotic and amazing at getting rid of those nasty germs.
Squeeze lemon liberally
Lemon alkalises the body, amongst other things. An acid state is thought to be bad for the immune system and disease thrives in an acidic environment, so squeeze it on everything from salads to vegetables and drink in hot water.
The C Master
Vitamin C is the single most important vitamin for the immune system, so if you are sick or feeling you are getting sick then supplement with a high dose. Otherwise, make sure you are getting lots through your diet to keep the bugs at bay! Brightly coloured fruits and veg are a good way of judging the vitamin C content - the more colourful the better.
Dose up on D
Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D . Now is the time to supplement! 2000iu per day is a good general amount to take on a daily basis through the winter months.
Things to avoid…
It is the usual suspects I’m afraid: sugar , caffeine, alcohol, additives, preservatives, dairy and red meat. I know it’s always the same offenders but they do put a lot of pressure on the immune system. Sugar is especially bad for a run down immune system so avoid sugary snacks and drinks.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep you will find that you are more likely to be struck down so try to get more zzzzz’s in.
Above all, listen to your body. If you are starting to feel the signs of illness then take care of yourself, so that you don’t end up with a full blown illness. Make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated and give your body the nutritional tools it needs to keep well and hopefully you can hop and skip your way through Christmas and well into next year.