If you haven’t been sick yet this winter, then you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve got off scot-free… BUT January is peak time for getting knocked down with the flu or the common cold. Our immune systems are still recovering from an indulgent, sugar-laden, exercise-barren festive period so we’re arguably even more susceptible to getting sick this side of the New Year. This is why we wanted to get the lowdown from a nutritionist we trust to help provide you with expert advice on how to avoid getting sick. We sat down with Get More Vits’ resident nutritionist, Becky Graham who trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, to talk about how we can boost immunity and what vitamins we should be reaching for at this time of year.
What are the essential vitamins we need on a daily basis?
Particularly at this time of year, I would definitely advise supplementing vitamin D because, during the winter months, we’re naturally exposed to a lot less sunlight. The latitude of where the UK sits on the earth means that, as a population, we are unable to produce enough vitamin D to last us through winter. By the end of January, our reserves from the summer are drastically low and that’s why we come down with colds and coughs more so at this time of year. Vitamin C is also one that I would recommend supplementing as it’s a really important nutrient for healing. Because it’s water soluble and not fat soluble like vitamin d, you need to keep your levels topped up as our bodies don’t retain it very well. Lastly, I do advise my clients to take a good multivitamin. The reason being is that intensive farming methods used these days mean the soil isn’t always given the best chance to replenish itself, thus the fruit and veg that use it to grow, don’t always contain adequate levels of nutrients like they use to.
What foods would you recommend eating more of this time of year?
Although the body works as a whole and there isn’t one food we should be eating in isolation, there are certain foods that have great properties that help with boosting your immunity. Some of my favourites are garlic, ginger and cinnamon for their antibacterial and anti-viral properties. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory so it’s a good one to have when you’re trying to recover as with colds and coughs, our respiratory system can become very inflamed. Try adding some raw ginger, manuka honey (also contains antibacterial properties) and lemon to hot water for a warming and healing drink. Lastly, anything green! Clients are often surprised when I tell them that gram for gram broccoli has way more vitamin C than oranges so if it’s green, get it in your diet!
Are there any lifestyle habits or foods that might be hampering our immune system?
There are a few habits and foods you can try to reduce but it’s important to know that some things are unavoidable. Stress is one of them. I think as a population, we’re chronically stressed one way or another and there are different forms of stress like emotional stress and physical stress. Both, however, be managed by things like exercise and meditation but also eating well is really key. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are a big no no for our immunity but are often the first thing we reach for when we’re feeling stressed! It’s a vicious cycle! When we consume excessive amounts of sugar, our bodies respond by producing cortisol (the stress hormone) and that works by providing an anti-inflammatory response. If you wear out your reserves or cortisol, you end up reducing your body’s ability to defend against inflammation (i.e colds and viruses). So, less stress and less sugar if you can!
Many of our readers are parents and would love to know about how they can boost their children’s immune systems?
That’s a great topic and it’s definitely something parents should focus a lot more on this time of year. Children are really susceptible to coming down with coughs and colds for many reasons. Firstly, their immune systems aren’t as strong as they haven’t built up a resistance to bugs and viruses like adults have. Nurseries and schools are also breeding grounds for illness so if one child in the class is sick, the chances of your child catching the same thing are very high. Get More Vits have actually just re-formulated their children’s range of vitamin drinks and all contain a multivitamin blend, including B vits, vitamin D and calcium, so are great if you have fussy eaters and want peace of mind that they are getting some nutrients! They come in really tasty flavours (which you can now buy on Amazon) but contain no sugar meaning the kids are happy and none the wiser and the parents are also happy too. Of course, encouraging them to eat as well as possible is definitely important and getting them hooked on a “Hulk” green juice can often be a good start!
About Get More Vits
If you struggle to remember to take your vitamins or simply hate swallowing pills then Get More Vits have got you covered with their range of vitamin-infused waters. They understand it can sometimes be a hassle to stay topped up by taking multiple pills each day so they created a product that was accessible to everyone, incredibly easy to digest and really delicious too. For more information and where to shop visit www.getmorevits.com