All words by Issy Hoffman
One of my first thoughts when I think of winter is the dropping temperatures and how long I can postpone getting the dreaded flu. However, there are numerous ways we can help our bodies in order to keep our immune system as healthy as possible to prevent getting sick these next few months.
The obvious pointer is consuming vitamin C. We all hear how we need vitamin C in our diets to help boost our immune systems, well this isn’t a myth. Vitamin C supports our immune defence within the body and assists with various cellular functions, growth and repair, the maintenance of cartilage and healing of wounds, to name a few. However, as humans we lack the protein to synthesise vitamin C, meaning we must consume it within the diet and need to aim for 40mg per day. But there’s no need to worry, as there are endless food options that contain vitamin C including citrus fruits, peppers, leafy green vegetables and sweet potato.
EAT A BALANCED DIET
On a daily basis, we should be consuming a balanced diet containing all our macro and micronutrients; complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit. Eating a rainbow can help us increase our nutritional intake as we are more likely to eat a variety of foods containing different nutrients including vitamins and minerals which are necessary for our bodies to function efficiently and keep us in tip-top health. For example, spinach is full of vitamin A, K and folate, similarly with mushrooms which are high in potassium and selenium.
Exercise has been linked to a reduction in stress, an increase in sleep quality, a boost in the immune systems and due to the release of endorphins can even be said to make us happier. We should all be aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. There are so many ways to stay active including barre, Pilates, DPM workouts that can be done at home or even walking your dog! Do not underestimate what staying active can do for your health. But do remember to listen to your body as we all need rest and over-exercising can lead to stress on the body and other health implications.
WASH YOUR HANDS
It sounds simple and it is. Washing your hands can prevent bacteria from spreading and this is not just for after the bathroom. Try and wash your hands after using the toilet, coughing, sneezing and preparing food. Top tip: try and limit the amount you are touching your face, this decreases direct contact from your mouth, eyes and nose.
AIM TO GET 7-9 HOURS OF SLEEP
Sleep is very important for us both mentally and physically. However, for many, it is the first thing that we give up when under time constraints, stress, or even to have a social life. The immune system aids in repairing and restoring our bodies and sleep provides our body with the perfect time for this to occur. Sleep has also been linked to mood and when we lose sleep, we may find ourselves waking up a bit moodier or being asked did you get out of the wrong side of the bed today? Likewise, getting 7-9 hours of sleep a day may find you feeling refreshed and less stressed.
DON’T FORGET TO DRINK WATER
Our bodies are made up of around 60% of water, therefore, it is imperative that we stay hydrated in order for our bodies to function. We should be aiming for around 2-3 litres per day, with this increasing when undertaking exercise. Water is key for hydration as well as the removal of toxins from the kidneys and the production of lymphocytes which fight infection. Top Tip: Add lemon or an orange slice for an added hit of vitamin C.
There are so many ways to a healthy winter, and most are basic. Eat well, sleep enough, and get out. Most seem like common sense but making an active effort to follow through can be beneficial in the long run and the key to winter wellness.
Read Issy’s article on the perfect foods to eat at this time of year here. And don’t forget to regularly check out our videos page for all the workouts you need to stay active during Winter.