By now, many of you may have already experienced the common cold or flu, maybe COVID or RSV. Either way, it’s not very nice!

When considering the winter blues, we want to take into account prevention AND treatment to reduce the severity & duration of the illness.

It is crucial that we work on our immune system throughout winter in order to avoid getting sick in the first place. However, if we do get sick, having a strong immune system will decrease the severity of symptoms & recovery time.

The following are some easy tips on improving immune function throughout winter (and anytime!):

  • EAT PREDOMINANTLY WHOLEFOODS: meat, seafood, dairy, fresh fruit & vegetables, grains, nuts & seeds.
  • MINIMISE INTAKE OF PROCESSED FOODS: fatty foods, sugary foods, soft drinks, alcohol.
  • CHASE THAT MORNING SUN: Upon waking, expose yourself to outdoor sunlight (on the clearer, dryer days that is). This helps to balance our cortisol levels which is important for immune function.
  • KEEP UP YOUR WATER INTAKE: This can be more difficult during the colder months so I recommend enjoying herbal teas throughout the day which contribute to your overall water intake. Some great immune herbs to include are Echinacea, Ginger, Lemongrass, & Nettle Leaf
  • EXERCISE REGULARLY: whether it be taking the dog for a walk, going to the gym, pilates or doing a home workout.
  • GET 8HRS+ OF RESTFUL SLEEP: Getting a quality sleep is important to keep the immune system in check. This is especially important when we are unwell as our body repairs when we sleep.
  • INCLUDE KIWI FRUIT IN YOUR DIET: with the skin on (yes you heard correctly, skin on!) – kiwi fruits are a fantastic source of fiber & vitamin C.
  • INCLUDE BONE BROTH IN YOUR DIET: whether it be in your cooking or as a warm drink, bone broth contains essential amino acids as well as vitamins & minerals which are essential for gut health & immune function. Nutra Organics, Best of the Bone or GevityRX are all great brands.
  • GET YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS CHECKED: Vitamin D is extremely important for immune function. Next time you visit your GP, request a Vitamin D test. An optimal vitamin D level is between 100 – 120.
  • ENSURE YOUR GUT HEALTH IS IN CHECK: 70% of your immune system resides within your gut so if you’re experiencing digestive issues, likely you will be prone to recurrent infections, especially during the winter months.
  • USE FOOD AS MEDICINE: Using herbs & spices you already have at home in your kitchen can improve immune function & help to fight off infections. Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, Oregano, Thyme, Cinnamon & Cloves are all great examples.
  • STOCK UP ON WINTER PANTRY STAPLES: have some Manuka honey on hand throughout winter. Manuka honey contains potent antimicrobial properties & can be effective in soothing a sore throat. Lemons are another fantastic winter addition for their vitamin C content. Sip on a lemon, ginger & manuka honey tea when feeling unwell.

Here is a delicious recipe that I love making during the winter months, especially when I am sick:  IMMUNE BOOSTING CHICKEN & VEGGIE SOUP  

This winter, I am offering acute immune consultations In Person AND via TeleHealth. These consultations are great for acute illnesses such as the common cold/flu, COVID, respiratory infections, daycare illness etc. It is recommended to book a consultation at the first sign of an infection to get on top of things before they progress. You will receive individualized dietary & lifestyle advice, a herbal mix (additional cost) and any additional supplementation (additional cost) as required. Herbs & nutraceuticals are extremely powerful in reducing the duration & severity of immune illness.

Alternatively, if you are someone who is prone to viral illness during winter, an acute immune consultation can be booked to get some immune herbs made up to have on hand at home. 

Written by Todd Clinics Naturopath Shannon Jolly, Gut Health & Women’s Health Naturopath