Winter Wellness Warriors

Sick of being sick?

Are you one of the many people, for whom a string of colds and flu is a way of life in Winter? Fortunately, it is possible to improve your immune system function and reduce the frequency and severity of those nasty Winter germs with a bit of awareness and some simple strategies.

Prevention beats cure every time

If you are stressed out, unfit, run down and/or consuming a nutritionally poor diet, you are likely contributing to the demise of your immune systems defences and setting yourself up to succumb to one of the viruses floating around.

Here’s some top tips on preparing your immune system to withstand this Winter’s lurgies:

• Reduce stress – being stressed reduces immune system function, so make sure you incorporate regular time-out, meditation and/or ‘green’ time, such as walking outdoors or playing with pets.

• Enjoy regular exercise – remaining active reduces the risk of contracting a cold by up to 46%.

• Sleep – aim for 7 to 8 hours each night to restore energy and increase resilience.

• Eat your fruit and vegies – at least three cups of fresh vegetables and/or salad, plus two serves of fresh fruit every day. Fill your plate with a rainbow of colour to ensure an abundance of essential nutrients and antioxidants that will help support healthy immune system cells.

• Regularly wash your hands – simple soap and warm water helps reduce cross- contamination with unwell people.

While being prepared for Winter is the best strategy, it may be unrealistic to achieve all the tips outlined above. This is where your practitioner can help by creating an individualised prescription of natural medicines to help improve your health.

Marvellous medicinal mushrooms

If you are one of those people that experiences recurrent infections then your immune system could benefit from some more specific additional support. The advantage of natural medicine is that it is not just to treat illness, but improve your own natural immune defences. For example, the immune-boosting medicinal mushrooms include cordyceps, coriolus, shiitake and reishi – four, not only traditionally used, but widely-studied and clinically proven mushrooms available. Individually, each species of mushroom has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in immune enhancement, to help resolve chronic, and/or recurrent infectious conditions. What’s more, this combination of mushrooms provides symptomatic relief of upper respiratory tract infections, including reducing mucus congestion.

Healthy gut – healthy immune system!

Did you know that approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your digestive system? This emphasises how important it is to also look after your gut health. Many people are aware that certain probiotics can support digestion, but did you know there are specific probiotics that support a healthy immune system? The beneficial strains, Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9, Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®) all help enhance immune system function, making this combination a valuable aid to Winter wellness. As a healthy immune system is supported by the right microbial balance in your gut, speak to your practitioner about which probiotic combination is the most appropriate, to help overcome your immune system concerns.

No need to hibernate

There’s no need to experience ongoing or recurrent illness this Winter, or hide away at home until it’s over! Start by modifying what needs to change in your diet and lifestyle, and come speak to your Northside Health practitioner about specific strategies to help support your immune system.

The Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid

  • Take a resveratrol rich antioxidant, multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acid and probiotic daily
  • Include a handful of nuts and seeds and up to two tablespoons of healthy oils daily
  • Limit starchy carbohydrates at one to two small serves daily
  • Enjoy a minimum of two pieces or one cup of fresh fruit daily
  • Include protein-rich foods in each meal or snack
  • Enjoy a minimum of three cups of fresh vegetables daily
  • Drink a minimum of eight glasses of pure water daily
  • Enjoy a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity, and 30 minutes of fun and relaxation on most days