05 Aug 5 Ways to Boost Your Immunity This Winter
With the East Coast Low battering my corner of Australia this week, it finally feels like winter here – the cold, bleak, blustery type of winter that I remember from my 36 years in Melbourne. And sure enough, with the sudden change in weather has come the inevitable colds, flues and general lurgies that are “going around” in Byron Bay. So I thought now would be a good time to remind you of some tried and tested ways to boost your immunity, no matter where you are. Here are 5 simple things you can do to get your immune system cranking again.
1. Chicken Broth
It’s not called “Jewish Penicillin” for no reason! Science has recently proven what our grandmothers and great-grandmothers already knew – a nourishing broth made from chicken carcasses and veggies, slow cooked and skimmed, and served piping hot, can actually boost your body’s defences. Some people prefer to go for a short-cooked broth of just a couple of hours, but I personally like to leave mine for about 12-18 hours (just before the chicken bones become soft!). The combination of minerals and gut-healing properties is perfect for winter. If you’re feeling particularly hardcore, add some chopped fresh turmeric, ginger and garlic to the mix.
For a long time it was thought that only the exotic mushrooms had immune boosting powers, leading to health seekers stocking up on shiitake, reishi and maitake to name a few. And I must admit, I am partial to a shiitake, garlic and chilli soup when I’m feeling run down. But if you don’t want to spend the big bucks on top shelf exotic mushies, recent studies have revealed that even the humble button mushroom has some immune boosting properties. So grab a bagful next time you’re at the supermarket and try adding a few to your diet every day.
I mentioned it above, but it’s worthy of it’s own paragraph. Garlic is the bomb diggity when it comes to killing bugs! With antibacterial and antifungal properties stemming from its volatile oils, garlic packs some serious punch. Use it wherever you can, but to protect those precious oils, the best way to take it is either raw (minced is the easiest way) or simmered in a soup with the lid on.
4. Avoid the dairy
Dairy is often described as a “mucous-forming food” by natural health practitioners, and with good reason. When you eat dairy, if your body can’t digest it fully, or if you have any sort of leaky gut issue going on, it’s the lymphatic system that’s in charge of clearing it out. This means your tonsils will have to work extra hard, leaving you more susceptible to infections and congestion. If you’re the sort of person that feels clogged up after a lot of dairy (perhaps you’ve noticed it after a big night on the cheese, or a large thickshake?), then a little bit is still doing you damage. It’s best avoided if you feel like you’re coming down with any kind of snotty condition, as it will just clog you up more.
So many Australians are low in this important mineral! Although you will find zinc in foods like red meat, organ meats, nuts and seeds, it’s sometimes hard to get enough, especially since our absorption can be affected by diuretics like coffee and alcohol. Zinc is needed to not only fight off infections, it’s also needed to protect the gut (the area where our immune system cells are made). If you feel like you may be deficient, a quick “zinc tally test” (purchased from your health food store) can give some indication of your levels, or if you’re particularly concerned, organise a blood test via your naturopath.
If your immune system is really suffering, and you feel like you’re just getting everything that comes along, if you’re constantly run down, don’t forget, a 1-on-1 visit to the naturopath could do you the world of good! Click here to find out more.