Whilst you might be busily making plans for Christmas, at this time of year our bodies are also working hard to fend off the many bugs around during cold and flu season. And though there’s no cure for the common cold, there are some effective things you can do to boost your immune system and stave off winter illnesses.
1. Eat well
One of the best ways to support your immune system is to eat a varied diet that’s packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Fruit and veg
Although it’s tempting to spend the winter indulging in comfort food, making sure you still get your 5 a day will keep your body stocked with vital vitamins, such as:
- Vitamin A – which helps your cells fight infection. Get all you need from a varied diet that includes yellow, red and green leafy vegetables such as peppers, spinach, broccoli, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C – which helps cells repair themselves. Snack on oranges and berries, and include green vegetables and potatoes with meals.
- Vitamin E – which keeps your skin and immune system strong. Olive oil is rich in vitamin E – why not drizzle some on a salad for lunch?
Fish or eggs
Eggs and oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are thought to reduce inflammation in the body, supporting white blood cells to battle illnesses and infections.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt
Dairy products are a great source of vitamins A and B12 – essential for a healthy immune system. Yoghurts (particularly ones listed as ‘bio’ or ‘probiotic’) are also great ways to stimulate the friendly bacteria in your gut – helping them ward off the harmful bacteria that can cause stomach bugs.
2. Stay hydrated
In summer, when being out and about in hot weather makes us sweat, it’s easy to remember to drink plenty of water. But in winter, it can sometimes slip our minds. However, even if you’re not losing fluids through perspiring, you still need to keep your body topped up throughout the day, as your cells need water to work properly and fight off illnesses.
Try to drink eight large glasses of liquid a day. This can include tea, coffee, squashes and juices as well as water. But water should make up the majority of what you drink, as it doesn’t contain caffeine or sugar.
As well as keeping the cells of your immune system hydrated, drinking water helps protect your skin from becoming dry and cracked – something many of us experience in winter, what with the cold air outdoors and the heating on indoors. Your skin is your first line of defence against any winter bugs, so it’s a great idea to keep it in tip-top condition.
3. And, relax...
Never underestimate the benefit of a good night’s sleep. Getting a full 7-9 hours a night gives the body time to heal – and combat the beginnings of coughs and colds. If you have trouble settling down for the night, try turning off the TV or computer two hours before bed, as the bright light from electrical devices can stop your body from producing the sleep hormone, melatonin. Perhaps make yourself a soothing hot drink, and pick out a good book instead.
The Christmas season can be a busy time of year. But with our home meals service, you needn’t worry about stepping out into the cold to stock up on delicious dinners and daily essentials. Instead, you can spend your time doing whatever you fancy – from catching up with friends and family to writing cards and wrapping gifts.
See our online shop to order a tempting choice of frozen ready meals within minutes.