It’s only been in the last few days that the temperatures have seemed to really plummet and I’ve found myself increasingly wanting to hide under a duvet with a good book (who am I kidding? I always want to do that…) Although it’s not the weather itself that causes so much illness at this time of year, spending all of our time indoors with the central heating working overtime provides an ideal environment for viruses to spread. Last year I ended up with a nasty bout of the flu in December that meant that I was bed-ridden for a couple of weeks (which, when you live alone is pretty bleak) and so this year I’m doing everything I can to avoid being ‘struck down’ and boost my immunity.
I used to always seem to be suffering with some type of ailment, but over the last few years (the lengthy flu incident excepted) I feel like I’ve felt generally much healthier. Some of the things I’ve found most effective in pursuit of this are:
Get enough rest
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I am definitely an ‘eight hours a night’ type of person. Any less than this and I feel really sluggish and lethargic the next day, and I’m definitely not operating at my best. For this reason I tend to go to bed at about 10pm, and wake up about 6am – building my sleep routine around ensuring I get those magical 8 hours. I have no qualms about climbing into bed early and it’s an important part of my self-care routine to wind down properly and ensure my night-time practices encourage restful sleep.
Take a supplement
Over the last two weeks I’ve been dedicated to taking AlchemLife PhytoRelief-CC twice a day, and I really do believe it’s a bit of a ‘wonder product’. PhytoRelief works as both a preventative as well as being clinically proven to reduce both the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms (so it’s a good idea to keep a pack in the medicine cabinet as a back-up). The lozenges contain gingerol (the active ingredient in ginger extract), turmeric (known for its ability to control inflammatory response) and pomegranate, which contains antioxidants. All of these ingredients come together to create a natural defensive barrier and support your immune function. A few nights ago I found myself coughing in bed at night and so I trotted downstairs, took a PhytoRelief lozenge and it instantly disappeared – I was blown away by how quickly it worked!
I’m really interested in Ayurveda – a sophisticated mind-body health system with its origins in India and I try and follow as many of its principles in my daily life (many of which form the basis for this post, including getting restful sleep, eating a colourful diet and exercising). PhytoRelief is based on a traditional Ayurvedic remedy, which really appeals to me. You can literally feel the lozenges working; they’re so warming and soothing and I’ve definitely noticed a general increase in my health and sense of wellness since taking it.
Eat a nourishing diet
It goes without saying that our immune function is intrinsically linked to our diet. We should be eating foods that provide a good level of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. We know that Vitamin C is essential for our immune function – as well as the obvious oranges; grapefruit, kiwis, melon and mangoes all provide at least a quarter of your recommended daily dosage. And broccoli and peppers are also great veggie-based source.
Eating healthy fats also helps us absorb nutrients and maintain good health. Fatty fish, olives, nuts and avocados are all great to include in your diet, and sources of vitamin E like sunflower oil, almonds and hazelnuts can also be beneficial to heart health and cancer prevention. Although I’m a total avocado addict and I do try and include nuts and fish in my diet I definitely think there is more I could do here – I’ll be including more fruit in my morning smoothies from now on to try and get more Vitamin C into my diet.
Get enough exercise
In the winter months, exercise is about the last thing I want to do (the book and blanket set-up seems far more appealing!) but I know how much better it makes me feel and it’s a great feeling to continue to feel fit and strong throughout the slower seasons. I tend to try and stay in tune with my body and figure out what it needs at that time – at the moment I’ve had a lot of muscle soreness so I’ve been tending towards lower impact exercise like yoga and long walks with the dog. As my plantar fasciitis eases off and I feel a bit more active I definitely want to get back into running and start lifting weights again. Not besides how it makes me feel, there are many theories suggesting that exercise slows down the release of stress hormones, helps the body fight infection better (due to the rise in temperature) and can help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. So it’s a bit of a no-brainer!
What are your tips for improving your immunity and avoiding the dreaded cold?