Winter Wellness Tips
As we move into the cooler months many people find that they are more prone to catching coughs and colds and other airborne viruses. This means more days off work or school, more doctors’ visits and so more potential for a miserable time over winter.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to help increase your immunity and ward off the winter ills and chills naturally. When it comes to immune boosting nutrients, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C are your magnificent three.
Vitamin D has excellent immune enhancing properties, as well as helping to improve mood and reduce the risk of respiratory infections in children. Most of your vitamin D is produced in the body from exposure to sunlight, so deficiencies are becoming more widespread due to heavy sunblock use. This valuable nutrient also takes quite a dip through the winter months as your sunlight exposure drops naturally.
Ideal vitamin D levels are around 100nm/L. If you think your levels may be low it may be an idea to have your blood levels tested. It is best to talk to a qualified health practitioner before supplementing with vitamin D as this is one of those vitamins where either too little or too much can be dangerous.
Zinc is an immensely important immune boosting mineral. Adequate levels of this nutrient can help to prevent or decrease the duration of sore throats and respiratory infections that are so common in winter. Zinc also has the additional benefit of assisting with mood, healthy skin and wound healing, as well as improving fertility and hormone balance in men and women.
There are many great food sources of zinc such as oysters, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, yogurt and non GMO tofu. Despite this, zinc deficiencies amongst Kiwis are common because New Zealand soils are low in in this vital mineral. To top up your levels, zinc is a great mineral to supplement with for three months during winter. Excess doses can cause gastric upset and nausea so it is important to talk to your health provider to find the correct dose for you.
Most people know how important vitamin C is for helping to boost immunity and fight infection, but you may not be aware that it has numerous other health promoting roles in the body. These include healthy skin and gums, wound healing, iron absorption, and cardio vascular health. Humans are one of the few mammals who can’t produce their own vitamin C (the others being guinea pigs some primates and bats) and so it is essential to include this vital nutrient in your diet.
As vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient, it cannot be stored for a long time in the body, so small regular daily doses are important. Some of your best winter food sources of vitamin C are parsley, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, leafy greens, red capsicum and fresh sprouts.
It is useful to take a loading dose of vitamin C at the first sign of infection. A buffered vitamin C in a drink bottle (ideally glass) sipped throughout the day over a handful of days is a good way to top up your vitamin C levels without upsetting your digestion. For others who have poor absorption orally or where higher doses are indicated, IV vitamin C is another option you can discuss with our doctors.
There are many different supplemental forms of the various nutrients discussed above and not all are well absorbed or tolerated. Practitioner-only brands are stringently tested for quality and efficacy and guarantee to contain the correct dose and form of the nutrient best utilized by the body. It is always best to have any supplements prescribed by a qualified health provider within the context of a consultation to ensure you are using quality products prescribed to meet your needs.
Children can be particularly at risk of respiratory infections, viruses and flus during the winter time as their immune systems are still developing, and they are often picky when it comes to eating healthy immune boosting- foods. Looking into dietary strategies and food intolerances, as well as supplementing with immune boosting nutrients, can be an effective way to support your child’s health through winter.
It is also important to remember that alongside the excellent immune boosting nutrients discussed above, the main defense against illness is to have a holistic, healthy, lifestyle.
Top Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle:
- Eat a diet rich in plants and wholefoods, and low in processed foods and sugars
- Include plenty of immune boosting herbs and spices in your diet such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and thyme
- Get adequate, good quality sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid foods that you may be allergic or intolerant too
- Have regular medical screening for your age appropriate group.
To make an appointment for a consultation with any of our holistic GP’s or Naturopaths call 09 376 0650