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  • Writer's pictureZita Dixon

A Nutritionist’s Top Tips for Immune Health this Winter!

We all know how important it is to have a robust immune system, right? Especially at the time of year between seasons, when the weather is changing, or during times of stress. As a nutritionist who loves working with busy mums, I am always working to ensure my clients know what to do to support their immune system.

Lemon, honey, ginger and garlic for immunity.
Lemon, honey, ginger and garlic for immunity.

As a busy mum, it's easy to lose sight of our own well-being while we focus on nurturing our family instead. However, there comes a time when we realise that it's essential to prioritise ourselves and embark on a health and weight loss journey that not only helps us feel confident and comfortable in our clothes again, but also promotes our overall health. Yet, in our eagerness to shed those extra kilos, we may unknowingly compromise our immune system. Crash diets, calorie restrictions, and poor eating habits can leave us vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies, ultimately impairing our body's natural defence system. The upside is, what I see with my clients, who have their individual, healthy and balanced nutrition plan, is that their immune systems are better protected. The power of food is incredible.

That's why in this article, I am super excited to dive into this topic with you today. We're going to explore some ways busy mums can naturally boost immunity, from simple lifestyle changes to powerful nutritional supplements. So, get ready to arm your immune system and equip yourself with some valuable knowledge!

Understanding the Immune System for busy mums:

Before we jump into the strategies for boosting immunity, let's quickly understand how the immune system works its magic. Think of your immune system as your body's defence system, working tirelessly to keep you healthy and protected. It consists of a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to identify and eliminate harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

When your immune system is strong and in balance, it's better equipped to fend off invaders and keep you and your system well. But when it's weak and the defence system is down, it's like the world's worst guard dog, letting anyone climb over the fence and causing all kinds of trouble.

Lifestyle Changes for Immune System Support:

Healthy colourful meal
Healthy colourful meal

First up, a balanced diet is key. Your immune system thrives on nourishment, so make sure to load up on a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like ghee, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and avocado too and proteins such as fish, seafood, chicken, kangaroo, beef, lamb, pulses and nuts and seeds.

These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen your immune response. For example, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are packed with vitamin C, which is known to bolster immune function. Nature is clever as these are in season in winter too.

Pumpkin, carrots, green leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin E, which are important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, mackerel and sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. Rye, eggs, shellfish, meats, chicken, goat and sheep milk products are packed with essential minerals such as zinc and selenium, which are also important for a healthy immune system.

Don't forget about immune-boosting powerhouses like garlic, ginger, and turmeric, which have been used for centuries to enhance immunity.

Regular exercise is another game-changer for your immune system. Not only does it help maintain a healthy weight and improve cardiovascular health, but it also enhances immune function. My recommendation is 3 sweaty sessions per week doing something you enjoy. This helps make it sustainable. Great options are Pilates, yoga, weights, swimming, rowing or a good bootcamp. Then on your off days, go for a walk to keep your body moving.

Ah, sleep – the unsung hero of immune support. Getting quality sleep is vital for maintaining a robust immune system. During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates, and your immune system goes into overdrive, fighting off infections and fortifying your defences.

Have a good bedtime routine and go to bed at a regular hour. No screens an hour before bedtime will help calm your brain. Read a book instead. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night.

Stress, oh stress – it can wreak havoc on your immune system. Chronic stress weakens immune function, making you more susceptible to illnesses. That's why it's essential to manage stress effectively. Explore stress-reducing techniques that resonate with you, such as taking time to breathe, spending time in nature and eating calming, nourishing foods. Check out last months blog for more information:

Natural Remedies for Immune System Support:

In addition to lifestyle changes, certain natural remedies can give your immune system an extra boost. Let's delve into some of these fantastic options.

Herbal supplements have long been used to support immune health.

Echinacea is a popular herb renowned for its immune-boosting properties. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections.

Elderberry is another superstar in the herbal world, known for its antiviral properties and ability to reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.

Essential oils can also be helpful in managing cold and flu symptoms. Tea tree oil applied topically is famous for its antimicrobial properties and can help ward off harmful pathogens. Eucalyptus oil is great used in a steamy shower for clearing congested airways and supporting respiratory health.

Clove oil is great for reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.

Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and stress-reducing properties too.

Remember to dilute essential oils properly and use them as directed.

Herbal Tea
Herbal Tea

Herbal teas, such as ginger, echinacea, and chamomile, can provide a comforting and immune-supportive drink. Ginger shots, made with fresh ginger root, lemon juice, and a touch of honey, are a powerful way to kickstart your immune system. Including garlic and onion in your cooking also supports the immune system to fight pathogens (and it tastes delicious!) And when you're feeling under the weather, whip up a hearty immune-supportive chicken soup, packed with nutrient-rich vegetables, herbs, and spices is proven to be a great immune-supporting meal.

One of my favourite winter immune boosters is a concoction I love to make. It is easy.

Recipe: Pop all of these into a large pot. 2 oranges, cut in half, 2 lemons cut in half, 2 limes cut in half, one whole bulb of garlic, cut in half. 1 onion, cut in quarters, 2 thumb size pieces of turmeric washed and cut into chunks and 2 thumbs of ginger, cut into chunks. Cover with filtered water and simmer for 1 hour. Cool and strain, squeezing all the juice out of the citrus and keep the liquid in the fridge. Serve warm with raw honey to taste. Have a cup daily, especially when there is a cold in the house.

I find that busy mums often need some extra immune boosters for themselves and for their family to ward off winter sniffles. My favourite immune boosting supplements are zinc - needed for helping the body's immune system function and is found lacking in many soils, vitamin C - is a brilliant antioxidant that can help protect against infection and vitamin D - essential for immunity and often lacking in busy mums.

There you have it – a comprehensive guide to naturally boosting your immunity. By making simple lifestyle changes, incorporating immune-boosting foods, embracing stress management techniques, and exploring natural remedies, you can strengthen your immune system and enhance your overall well-being.

Remember, these strategies work best when practised consistently and in conjunction with other healthy habits. Before making any significant changes, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

If you’re ready to finally release that extra weight, to help boost your immune system over winter, and find out exactly what you need to eat for your body, so that you can feel like you again and feel comfortable in those beautiful clothes you have hidden at the back of your wardrobe, then feel free to book in a discovery call to learn more about how my program

Find this helpful? You might like to grab my 5 Cleaning Hacks for Weight Loss, to help you get started with delicious nourishing foods.

For more tips on losing weight in a healthy sustainable way come follow me on Instagram at @zestnutritionsunnycoast or on Facebook at @zestnutritionsunnycoast

If you're struggling with poor immune health, let me know – I'm here to offer support and I have proven methods that have helped many of my clients strengthen their immune systems.

If you would like to check out what I do and get some delicious recipes, health tips and maybe even drop a kilo, then join my Flab to Fab Challenge where we will be building the foundations of effective weight loss. The next one starts in July, 2023.

By Zita Dixon


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