As we approach autumn and winter it is worth thinking about how we can support our immune systems to give us the best chance of good health over the next few months.
Many people say that during lockdown their diets went a bit haywire and of course stress can have a big impact on the food choices we make – we often opt for comfort foods that are lower in nutrients.
Here are a few tips to help ease you back into a better way of eating to support your body and mind.
Choose nutrient-dense, whole foods
- ‘Ultra processed’ food products (sugar, flour, processed seed oils) contain preservatives and artificial ingredients that are low in nutrients so try to avoid these.
- Get back into the habit of eating ‘rainbow’ coloured foods every day – take a look at this blog for a list: http://www.eatwellnutrition.co.uk/blog/eat-a-rainbow-every-day
- Try to eat at least one portion of oily fish every week – omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for immune support: mackerel, herring, sardines (tinned are fine) or chia and flax seeds; marine algae.
- Good quality protein: nuts and seeds; beans and lentils; meat, poultry and fish.
- Choose complex grains such as spelt, barley, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, brown basmati, wild rice and red rice
- Reconnecting with your natural circadian rhythms to facilitate growth and repair at a cellular level is incredibly important for a healthy immune system.
Functional movement and exercise
- Frequent, low-intensity natural movement distributed throughout the day supports a dense vascular network that assists in the delivery of nutrients to your cells and the removal of waste from them. You can add in more intense exercise to support specific your health goals.
Vitamin D and spending time in natural environments
- Vitamin D synthesis from exposure to the sun is an important part of overall health. Spending time in natural environments exposes you to immune-supportive microbial communities and helps reduce chronic stressors that are present in indoor environments (read this blog on fractal patterns: https://www.lucksyardclinic.com/the-healing-power-of-nature/. The Government now advises that individuals take a Vitamin D supplement through the winter months.
Support from your community
- There is a great deal of evidence emphasising the importance of feeling socially connected for your overall health. Lack of connections and support decreases your immune function. Many of us have experienced this at both ends of the spectrum! Being cooped up together for several weeks can bring its own stressors but generally we need connection for our overall wellbeing and happiness. At the moment this is a difficult path to navigate with local lockdowns but there are many ways of keeping in touch and finding support groups.
Happiness and a sense of purpose
- Immune stressors come in all forms, and emotional stressors play a large role. Your mindset influences the amount of perceived stress you have, which can have a profound influence on your immune health.