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Winter Wellness - Keeping those bugs away!

Is this what your family looks like in winter?

Do you find it hard to shake off a cold? .... does it just keeps hanging around?

Or do your grandkids come to stay and they always have snotty noses and you end up getting sick as well?

Here are 5 of my key actions for keeping my immune system in top form in the colder weather.

1) Stay warm: there is scientific proof that warmer body temperatures help prevent the cold virus from multiplying. 'Using mathematical models, the researchers found that when infected cells were exposed to healthy core body temperatures, the virus died off more quickly and wasn't able to replicate as well.'

So that means wearing a warm singlet, sweatshirt, socks and even a hat when outside. Infants and children do well wearing a merino singlet under their clothes. Remember infants don't notice the cold so will run around in the cold quite happily.

2) Get enough sleep: this is so important. Have you ever noticed that when you stay out late, burning the midnight candle or when your children don't get enough sleep (such as when you spend the day at a sports event (and they get cold) and then you take them to a function!) you or your kids end up getting sick?? Our body needs deep sleep for the immune system to be replenished and repaired. See my blog about the functions of different stages of sleep here.

3) Wash your hands regularly: viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing an infection can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Not all viruses are this infective, but it is better to be safe than sorry. So that means wash your hands regularly and wipe surfaces such as door handles, benches and other areas where an infected person has been touching (or sneezing). Also, don't touch your hand to your nose, eyes or mouth, as these are easy ways for the viruses to get into the body. This is also why people should stay home when they are sick - to reduce the risk of infecting others. More info here

3) Keep processed sugar a to a minimum (white sugar, brown sugar, fruit drinks, fizzy drinks, molasses, cane sugar)​: one of the problem with sugar is that it depresses the immune system for 4-6 hours after ingestion. So instead of being able to kill off the bacteria or virus, your body’s immune system’s ability to fight is DECREASED. It is LESS able to fight the infections, thus the infections spread.

4) Keep all dairy products to a minimum (milk, icecream, cream, yoghurt, cheese): these foods are mucous or phlegm producing. So even though they may be fine to have in summer, in winter when there are bacteria and viruses around the mucous/phlegm provides a medium for them to multiply in. When the phlegm is green or dark yellow it may indicate a bacterial or viral infection. (One article I read said that dairy causes the phlegm to thicken.)

5) Increase nutrient dense foods: such as lots of fresh green vegetables, lean protein, raw nuts, garlic: our immune system is like an army and we need lots of vitamins, minerals and protein to keep the army growing, and able to fight. These include the vitamins C, D, E, B6, and the minerals iron, selenium and zinc.

It isn't an old wives tale - chicken soup or broth is an excellent choice when you are in bed with a cold or a virus. Studies show it is anti-inflammatory and the chicken, which is rich in the amino acid glutamine, plays an important role in immune health. Read here

PS: one of the first nutrients I always take as soon as I have the hint of a cold is vitamin C. It is important to take divided doses 3-4 times a day, don't just take it once a day as that won't be effective. I like to take the powder, but a chewable or swallow tablet will also be effective if you get a good brand. Contact me if you have queries about what dose is best for you or your children.

Food sources of vitamin C : it isn't just in citrus fruits - leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya are also excellent sources. Or you can drink parsley tea.

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