The Winter Blues
It’s that time of year again folks. The time of year where that inevitable statement starts to echo around the work place – ‘I think there’s something going around’. Winter is now upon us. With the days getting darker and colder there seems to be a general acceptance that being struck down with the flu is a normal part of life. Well I have news for you – it may be common but it sure as hell isn’t normal. We don’t have to get sick, and to be honest who has time to get sick these days! If you’re running a business, a team of people or a family, coming down with a heavy flu or virus can lead to a massive loss in productivity and income, not to mention lost time in the gym! On a personal level, I have not been sick with a flu for about 7 years now – a time when when my dietary and supplement routine were vastly different to what it is now. People often ask me why I believe so strongly in supplementation. Well winter is their time to shine. Supplements often act in the background to little fan fare, all the while doing a great job at fending off intruders. During winter, when everyone is falling like 9 pins, these nutrients work synergistically to ward of illness and disease. Of course you can’t rely on a magic pill to do the job for you. Combining good supplementation with taking responsibility for the food you eat will go a long way to helping you get through winter unscathed. Today I thought I would share with you the 5 simple things you can do nutritionally to boost your immunity this winter. 1) Eliminate Sugar Sugar suppresses the immune system and accelerates sickness and disease. Our body uses white blood cells to destroy viruses. White blood cells need adequate vitamin C to function properly but it is well known that sugar interferes with this process. It has been shown that white blood cells slow down in activity immediately after consuming refined sugar leaving your body ill prepared (pun intended) to fight off disease. 2) Increase Good Fats Our immune system thrives on good quality fats such as high quality animal products, nuts, seeds, avocado’s and oils such as olive oil and coconut oil. In my opinion the introduction of more of these foods to my diet has been the single biggest boost to my overall immunity. Fats have a bad wrap in the world of nutrition, particularly saturated fat. Jumping on the ‘low fat’ bandwagon is one of the biggest mistakes we have made with regard to our nutritional choices as a society. The absence of fat in the modern diet has been a large contributor to the rise of sugar (see above). The absence of saturated fatty acids in our white blood cells hampers their ability to fight off invaders such as bacteria, germs and viruses.
3) Get adequate VitaminD Let’s face it – the majority of us are arriving at the office in the dark morning hours only to leave work as the sun sets in the evening. The only glimpses of sun many see is from a passing glance out the window. For this reason i highly recommend supplementing with vitamin D this winter. Vitamin D, naturally occurring in the body, is activated by exposure to sunlight. When Vitamin D levels are sufficient, your body turns on an agent called cathelicidin which in turn helps you fight off germs. It would be a wise decision to get your vitamin D levels tested this winter so you know what you’re up against. A great way to get a dietary source of vitamin D is to consume a high quality fish oil and free range eggs. 4) Get adequate Zinc Zinc is found in every tissue of the human body and is required to produce an estimated 80 different enzymes. A Zinc deficiency can drastically affect your immune system as it can cause a decline in T cell function. T cells help boost your immune system in times of need when nasty viruses are lurking. How do you know if you have a zinc deficiency? We have a simple zinc tally test that can tell you instantly whether zinc supplementation is needed. Some good sources of Zinc in the diet are found in high quality animal protein, seafood (particularly oysters) pumpkin seeds and chickpeas. 5) Eat your fruits and veggies 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies a day is optimal during the winter months. When choosing fruits and veggies, I like to recommend that people fill their shopping trolly with as much colour as possible to ensure a wide range of antioxidants are being consumed. For those of you that have trouble consuming this amount of fruits and veggies during a day I recommend an organic powdered form of supplement such as Primal Greens or Primal Reds to ensure you’re not missing out on vital nutrients. I tablespoon of these products is the equivalent of consuming 4 fruits or veggies and ensures you will get enough vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants to boost your immunity. Don’t accept that you have to put up with colds and flu’s this winter.