Autumn is upon us, and while we can look forward to wearing snuggly, chunky knits, curling up indoors with good books and treating ourselves to hearty stews and steaming mugs of cocoa, there is a downside to the season… We are more likely to catch a cold during the cooler months, and those who are vulnerable are more likely to become ill. So, while we’re enjoying beautiful arboretum walks or revelling around the bonfire, it’s important to remember that our bodies are under more stress from the cold and we should take steps to boost our immunity where we can.
Prevention is better than cure, and as many viruses are spread from person to person via small droplets, you can decrease the risk of transmission easily by following simple steps: wash your hands with warm water and soap; don’t share household items with someone who has a cold; don’t touch your eyes and nose if you’ve been in contact with someone who’s ill.
When it comes to making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition, keeping fit and healthy is key. Eat a balanced diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables full of micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin C.
Fermented foods can help keep your gut filled with good bacteria – excellent news as your gut is where a high number of immune cells reside. Nutritious seasonal foods, such as pumpkins, butternut squash, apples, beetroots and parsnips, add essential micronutrients to your daily intake.
A lack of sunshine means that your body is probably producing a lower amount of vitamin D. This is where oily fish, egg yolks and fortified cereals come in. Be conscious about adding them to your diet.
When temperatures are low, you probably won’t be feeling as thirsty as usual, but it’s important to ensure you keep well hydrated. Sip hot drinks, such as herbal teas and hot water with lemon and ginger, throughout the day and add soup to your lunch menu.
At the end of a busy day, bed down early ready for a good night’s sleep; most people need around eight hours. A bad night’s sleep can disrupt your immune system, making you more susceptible to catching bugs.
5 tips for keeping colds at bay
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep up levels of vitamin A, which enhances immunity. Find it in yellow, red and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers, or yellow fruit, such as mango and apricots. Good sources of vitamin A also include cheese, eggs and oily fish.
- Vitamin B12 is involved in producing red blood cells and converting food to energy. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products or fortified foods will help boost your B12 levels.
- If you are deficient in vitamin D, have a chat to your GP about which supplement is best for you.
- Ensure you keep hydrated by consuming hot drinks and other liquids throughout the day.
(BSc Hons. MSc ANutr)
As a nutritionist, Egzona knows how what we eat affects our overall health and is passionate about sharing her knowledge. Learn more from Egzona at maknutrition.co.uk