Winter Survival Guide

As Summer draws to a close, and Autumn pushes past, chilly weather is starting to creep in, and it is at this time of year that we should start being aware of the measures to take to keep us fit and healthy throughout the Winter months. By preparing now and strengthening the immune system you can be ready to fight winter bugs – so from right diet to healthy exercise here is our Winter Survival Guide:

Comfort Eating – A healthy diet is your first line of defence when it comes to fighting off winter infections. As the cold weather draws in fruit and vegetables seem less appealing but, actually, "comfort" food need not be bad for you. Starchy carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholegrain breads and cereals, fresh seasonal vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and dark leafy greens, and beans and pulses are comfort foods all rich in nutrients. Increase your fruit, and Vitamin C, intake by having a glass of freshly squeezed juice with breakfast.

Dietary Defenders – Make sure you are getting your quota of foods with nutrients important for the immune system – especially oily fish, which are rich in Omega–3 Essential Fatty Acids. Choose from tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel. These help to fight off frequent infections, combat dry skin and eyes, and help with inflammatory conditions such as RA. Other important immune boosters include Zinc – important for wound healing and fighting off infections – try sprinkling raw pumpkin seeds on your breakfast cereal - and Garlic – which has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity - grate fresh over food just before serving.

Take your vitamins – Whilst a healthy diet is the best way to get your nutrients, if you are busy or eat on the run then you might not be getting all you need. The best all round defence is to take a good multivitamin and mineral, but in the winter taking individual supplements targeted at specific problems is probably a good idea. Antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamin C and Zinc are crucial for keeping the immune system supported during the winter months. With Vitamin C your intake should be up to 1,000mg a day, Zinc 15mg a day. Probiotics – "good" bacteria for healthy intestinal balance are useful for maintaining healthy digestion. Either take as a supplement daily or increase your intake of low fat "live" natural yoghurt.

Catch some rays – Whilst too much sun exposure can put you at risk of certain skin conditions such as skin cancer, the problem in winter is not getting enough sun. Sunlight has important health benefits such as enabling us to manufacture Vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and healthy bones. Solve this by making sure you take a walk every day in daylight for up to half an hour.

If you are prone to suffering from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – a mood disorder brought on by diminishing light levels in Winter, it is important that you take your daily walk outside in daylight hours. Additionally, you may want to investigate using a light box. Contact the SAD Association for more details at: www.sada.org.uk

Keep moving – Exercising moderately for 30 minutes, 3 times a week, can leave you less susceptible to infections, and also has positive mood boosting benefits. It is always best to go for regular sessions of an exercise you enjoy rather than masochistically over-exercising which increases levels of stress hormones, which can actually weaken the immune system. Try one (or more) of the following: walking/jogging in the park, yoga, dancing, pilates, tai chi.

Stress soothers – Although some stress in your life is no bad thing, prolonged periods of feeling under pressure can depress the immune system – and when we do finally relax we come down with a cold or ’flu. One effective way to relieve stress and anxiety is to have a regular massage, or to give yourself a self-massage. Aromatherapy oils such as Lavender, Camomile and Geranium – in carrier oils – are all nature’s soothers, and are ideal for an evening massage, helping to you to get a good night’s sleep – and strengthening the immune system.

Flower Power – It has long been known that certain herbal remedies can help to keep colds at bay. The star immune booster Echinacea works by increasing the production white blood cells that fight infections. It is best to take Echinacea for up to 2 weeks at a time with a two-week break in between to build up immunity. Bach Flower Remedy – which is made up of 5 plant extracts – reputedly, when taken regularly, acts a great pick-me-up.

Additionally, try using warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cardamom in your cooking from September onwards.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids * Zinc * Garlic * Vitamin C * Echinacea * Bach Flower Remedy

To purchase any of these nutritional supplements go to the new Shop and Dispensary

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