Keeping well this winter

By professor David Russell in partnership with Charlotte Harbour BSc Nutritional Therapy

The autumn and winter months deliver the joys of classic comforts such as warm home-cooking, cosy nights in and the holiday season. Amid the sweet smell of cinnamon and the sounds of crackling firewood lurks a not-so-joyous reality – cold and flu season. We all know that keeping warm, resting and eating well will keep us strong, but what specifics can we implement to stay healthy this winter?

Enjoy a rainbow diet

Our immune systems require a variety of nutrients to function optimally – food is the best source of vitamins such as A, C, E and B12, all vital to staying well. Enjoying a plate packed with colourful vegetables, starches, fish, meat, nuts, beans and wholegrains will ensure our immunity stays in peak condition. Aim for between 5–10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, focusing on leafy green veg and low-sugar fruits.

Vitamin D

While Vitamin C is often the first vitamin that comes to mind when we think of fighting infection (and this is true; vitamin C is key), the often overlooked ‘sunshine’ nutrient Vitamin D is in even shorter supply during the darker months and deficiency is thought to put us at greater risk of catching a cold.

Care for the gut

Gut health has been the hot topic throughout the health and wellbeing sector over the past few years and it shows no sign of stopping. Among many other important functions, the microbiome (helpful bacteria in the large intestine) is vital for the optimal functioning of the immune system. We can help our bacteria by enjoying probiotic foods like live low-sugar yoghurts such as kefir as well as fibrous vegetables such as artichokes, turnip, kale, sweet potatoes and carrots.


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