Winter Immunity Survival Guide

Staying healthy and avoiding illnesses during winter is all about prevention. Get some top tips from the experts!

Your immune system needs to be at its optimum coming into winter and the best way to achieve this is through the whole family eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and being well rested.

With children, especially young ones, nutrition, exercise and sleep are the three areas which are hardest to accommodate so here are some further tips to be able to support these three pillars of health.

Cenovis Home Economist, Mandy dos Santos, shares her top tips for beating the winter sniffles.

1) Be Prepared!  Don’t wait til winter is in full swing to kickstart your immune system. The best way to make sure you’re in tip top condition come the colder months is to turbo boost your diet now

It’s important all members of the family eat a wide range of colourful fruits and veggies, along with lean red meat or good vegetarian sources of protein and iron. This way all the critical micronutrients and macronutrients your body needs will be supported and fuelled.

If your children are fussy eaters, this may prove a little tricky as vegetables and meat typically cause the most battles at mealtimes. Unfortunately for parents, these two food groups cover the majority of the nutrition helpful for maintaining strong immunity in little ones. You may find it helpful in winter to talk to your GP about appropriate supplementation to help fill the nutritional gap.

2) Get your iron fix:  Iron is essential to a healthy immune system – not only is it required to transport oxygen around the body, it also aids in the creation of T and B cells which are critical in fighting illness. Foods which are a good source of iron are also generally rich in vitamin B12 – another immune-fighting nutrient. The best source is red meat, but if you’re a vego, you can get your iron fix from legumes, tofu, eggs and green leafy veg.

3) Stock up on seeds:  It’s no secret that Vitamin E is the key to smooth, silky skin, but did you know it also aids in the production of antibodies which fight against illness?  Foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are all rich in Vitamin E so make sure you include plenty in your family’s diet as winter approaches.

4) Keep it moving: Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when it’s chilly outside, but try to resist the urge to hibernate if you can! Exercise plays a crucial role in respiratory health which is often affected during winter.

Finding the time to hit the gym isn’t always practical when you’re juggling work and family commitments, but moderate exercise around the home can be easily incorporated into your routine. Try dancing together, jumping on the trampoline, jumping with the skipping rope or even doing some vigorous gardening (if the weather allows). All count towards moving your body and increasing your heart and breath rate. Aim for around 30 minutes, three to four times a week.

5) Washing your hands: Forget fancy sanitising lotions and wipes, the best way to avoid germs and bacteria (unless someone sneezes directly in your face) is the good old fashioned way.

It may sound obvious but it’s still something we have to remind ourselves to do! Remember that sanitisers do not get rid of grime, dirt or matter which may harbour bacteria. When washing children’s hands, a good way of making sure you get rid of every last germ is to  remember the rule of singing “Happy Birthday” twice to ensure all bacteria, viruses and dirt are washed away. It also makes it fun for the little ones.

Mandy dos Santos is a home economist, recipe writer and food expert with over a decade of experience in the food industry. 

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