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Ways to Boost your Immune Systems During Cough and Cold Season




As the seasons change and temperatures drop, the familiar sound of coughs and sniffles begins to echo around us. But fear not! With a little self-care and mindful choices, you can navigate this season with resilience. In this blog, I share some proactive steps you can take to boost your immune system and give your body the best chance of fighting off those bugs through the winter.


Now I can’t absolutely promise you won’t get ill, but from personal experience I have far fewer colds following these steps, and when I do inevitably get ill I recover much faster.



1. Nourish Your Body with Immune-Boosting Foods

One of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your immune system is through the foods you eat. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc is vital for strong immunity.


Embrace a rainbow on your plate by incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and antioxidants.


Foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers, can play a crucial role in supporting your immune system. As does Vitamin D, found in things like oily fish, mushrooms, eggs and orange juice.


Also consider incorporating immune-boosting herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, and turmeric into your cooking. These ingredients have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can enhance your body's natural defences.


Kitchen cupboard cold tincture


I recently made a kitchen cupboard tincture using herbs and ingredients from my pantry to boost my system during cough and cold season. I take 1tbsp per day. It also doubles up as a cough syrup. The recipe (from Amy at Fitta Yoga) is below:


Ingredients

  • 1⁄3 cup of dried thyme or 1⁄2 cup of fresh thyme

  • 1⁄8 cup of either anise, fennel, licorice or cardamom seed

  • 1 cup of water (8 fluid ounces)

  • 1⁄2 to 2 cups of raw honey (6-25 fluid ounces)

  • optional small piece of fresh ginger or 1.5 tsp dried ginger


Instructions

  • Place the herbs in a small saucepan

  • Pour 1 cup of just-boiled water over the dried herbs. Allow it to steep for 20-40 minutes, keeping it covered.

  • Filter the infusion and return the liquid to the saucepan

  • Add 1⁄2 to 2 cups of raw honey (syrup containing 1⁄2 cup of honey has a shelf life of 3 weeks when refrigerated, while a syrup comprising 2 cups of honey remains viable for 1 year when refrigerated (Cech, 2000; Gladstar, 2012))

  • Slightly warm the mixture to mix well, ensuring not to exceed 110 degrees F

  • Transfer the syrup into a sanitized bottle or jar, preferably one that is dark-coloured to shield it from light exposure

  • Label and date, and keep it refrigerated


You can buy products like this is you can’t/don’t want to make your own. I’d recommend Winter Syrup from Sweet Bee Organics.



2. Stay Hydrated


Proper hydration is key to maintaining overall health and supporting your immune system. Water helps flush toxins out of your body and ensures that your cells function optimally. Herbal teas, especially those with immune-boosting herbs like echinacea or elderberry, can be a comforting and hydrating addition during the cold season.


3. Get Enough Sleep and Rest Rest Rest


The relationship between sleep and immunity is unmistakable. Inadequate sleep is a known contributor to weakened immune function. Prioritise quality sleep to allow your body the restorative time it needs.


During periods of rest, your body undergoes essential repair and regeneration processes. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to allow your immune system to function at its best. Establish a bedtime routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and limit screen time before bedtime to improve the quality of your sleep. (Link to my sleep blog)


As well as prioritising sleep, it’s important to find periods of rest too. This might look like reading, listening to a podcast, doing slow and gentle stretches, meditating.



4. Move your body


Regular exercise is a powerful immune system booster, stimulating the production of immune cells and enhancing their activity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Whether it's a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a dance class, find a form of exercise that brings you joy.


Physical activity not only enhances immune function but also reduces stress, another factor that can impact your body's ability to fend off illness. If you’re actually feeling poorly, slowing down and doing gentler movement is best. Yoga with Adriene’s yoga for when you’re sick is a lovely practice for when you’re ill.



5. Manage Stress


Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Practice mindfulness through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking a few moments each day to focus on the present. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it's a vital component of overall wellbeing. (Link to blog on stress, burnout and balance)



6. Get Plenty of Vitamin D


With the days growing shorter, it's easy to become deficient in vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in immune function. Spend time outdoors, even on chilly days, to soak up natural sunlight. Additionally, consider incorporating vitamin D-rich foods as mentioned above like oily fish, fortified dairy products, and eggs into your diet.



7. Consider Supplements


In addition to a balanced diet, certain supplements can support your immune system. Vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics are known to play crucial roles in immune function. Consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine to ensure they’re appropriate for your individual needs.



9. Use Essential Oils


The powerful smell of aromatherapy oils can support relaxation and stress relief, aid mood and wellbeing, and can support the immune system and circulatory health.


I created an immune boosting recipe blend which you can add to your skin (mixed with carrier oil) or used in a diffuser. Use equal parts of each essential oil.


  • Lemon

  • Rosemary

  • Sweet orange

  • Frankincense

  • Cypress


If using directly on skin, follow the dilution ratios below.


10. Practice Good Hygiene


Last but certainly not least, don't underestimate the power of good hygiene in preventing the spread of illness. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and be mindful of your surroundings. These simple habits can go a long way in protecting yourself and those around you.



Conclusion


As we embrace the changing seasons, let's also embrace the opportunity to enrich our bodies and minds. By incorporating these immune-boosting practices into your daily routine, you're not just preparing for the cough and cold season – you're investing in your long-term well-being. Remember, the power to live a healthy and resilient life is in your hands. Here's to a season of winter, warmth and wellness!




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