Written by: Jen Cox - AdvDip NAT + WHM. @keeperandkin
Tis’ the season to feel blocked up, cold and crusty. Welcome back, Winter - nobody missed you. Well… that may be a little harsh. Surely there are some redeeming features of the cooler months. Yes, sunshine is limited, but some of us like waking in the dark to go to work, right? We’re all so different - it’s a beautiful thing - surely some parents dig standing in the rain every bloody Saturday morning for Auskick… no one? Fair enough.
Since life doesn’t stop for bad weather, immunity can be a challenge. Sick kids, not enough sunshine and mid-year stress all play their role. While calling it a day with a one-way ticket to Noosa sounds mighty fine right now, there are ways to strengthen your immunity. Here’s how.
Load up on Soup-er Soups
The ideal way to get more nourishment in a warm way. Soups can be jam packed with fresh, seasonal vegetables. These babies are notoriously full of cold fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Blitz your soup in a blender for easy to digest, bioavailable nutrition and make up a double batch for easy meals on the run. When done right, this foodie fuel goes a long way towards your daily vegetable target too, something that’s embarrassingly underachieving in Australia, especially at a time when meeting those fruit and veggie minimums should be your top priority for cold defence.
Pro tip: use gut loving bone broth for a soup base with serious healing energy.
Supplement your microbiome
By now we all know the link between your gut and immunity. At least 70% of the immune system is based there, so maintaining a healthy tum with daily probiotic supplementation will lead to the right kind of boogie: more of the disco ball variety and less of the kind that’s wiped on sleeves.
Pro tip: If you traditionally add probiotics to smoothies or cool drinks, try sprinkling some over warm porridge made with coconut milk each morning instead. Studies have shown that more friendly bacteria get to the gut when taken with some good quality fat (like coconut milk.) Oats are also rich in zinc, selenium and beta-glucan, all class A immunity operators, so this warming bowl is your tailored cold weather immunity boost.
Take Turmeric daily
For a terribly clever system, the body’s reaction to a pathogen is pretty predictable. Inflammation is its go-to: creating aches, pains and the generally ‘bleugh’ sensation of a cold. Help side step this issue with some turmeric. It’s warming, very anti-inflammatory and has been proven to trigger specifically the charge against viruses, fungus and bacteria.
Pro Tip: for a café treat that’s not going to give your stress hormones a rollercoaster ride, try something with turmeric instead of your go-to caffeine hit. Golden lattes come at me.
Drink Herbal teas
Staying hydrated is difficult when it’s cold. Thank goodness herbal teas have got your back, they’ve been making hydration warmer and more interesting since the dawn of the teabag. Choose gut friendly blends and opt for organic if possible. There’s a flavour to suit everyone, though a few health faves are peppermint, echinacea and elderberry tea for their excellent immunity prowess. Chamomile can calm both the digestive and nervous systems, which in turn stabilises immunity. Or go for rosehip – it’s high in Vitamin C, a key immunity antioxidant that can shorten the severity and duration of a cold.
Pro tip: If tea seems too much effort, keep it simple. Slice some ginger and pop into your water bottle at the beginning of the day. Fill with warm water when you need to for cosy hydration with added anti-inflammatory benefits.
Get involved in the garlic
Good quality garlic is outrageously helpful to immunity. It can do loads of things on top of being delicious – it’s got potent antimicrobial properties, helps liver detoxification and sports inflammation dampening skills just to name a few. This flavoursome friend is also rich in selenium, an immune boosting antioxidant and all-round health lover. Adding liberally to meals will help fight the Winter lurgy.
Pro tip: add garlic in fresh after cooking, rather than applying too much heat. This will help preserve the active constituents and you’ll get more from the medicinal side of things.