As Australia prepares for winter, I share with you my musts for making it healthy.
It’s all in the food
Certain foods are packed with various vitamins and minerals, which, aside from being essential building blocks of life, are also vital for maintaining a healthy immune system. Take for example Vitamin C, when you have the sniffles, you reach out for an orange to help alleviate your symptoms. But how does Vitamin C actually work and which foods have the most content?
Vitamin C encourages white blood cell production (a vital part of the immune system) and it helps them function more effectively. So by taking this as per recommended amounts, your body will be thanking you. Traditionally we think of oranges having the most vitamin C, but did you know that a medium sized red bell pepper contains more vitamin C than an average orange?
It is also important to be mindful of your fluid intake. Water is a great way to keep hydrated and carries toxins out of the body, helping to keep you healthy. Fluids such as coffee and alcohol should be kept to a minimum as too much can actually have a negative effect on our immunity.
So by keeping up a healthy and varied balanced diet you can certainly boost your immune system naturally. Take a look at this video for more information on immune boosting foods.
Good Night’s Sleep
Nothing is better than having a restful sleep. By giving your body at least 7 hours of sleep as an adult, will not only allow you to function more clearly in the morning, but it also helps to heal the body. Whilst we are asleep our body produces proteins that help to fight off infection and inflammation. The less sleep we have the less of these proteins are produced, leaving us susceptible to infections. Research has also shown that not getting enough sleep in the long term can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
A Little Activity Can Go A Long Way
I always say to my patients that this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to run a marathon. To most people, exercise sounds like a chore and is difficult. If you are one of those people who struggles to get motivation (which we all do at some point) then you can implement exercise into your daily routine. This could take the form of walking to the shops rather than driving, or getting off the bus one stop early and walking the rest or even just walking around the block after dinner. We know that as long as you are exerting yourself for thirty minutes at least 5 times a week, then you are having a positive impact on your health. Of course, always consult with your medical doctor before embarking on any physical exercise program and stop immediately if you have symptoms of chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath and seek medical help.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
Whilst this is obvious, a number of people will still go out of their way to get to work because they couldn’t possibly take the day off work due to one reason or another. Unfortunately, as a General Practitioner, I see this too often. By exposing yourself to well people in the workplace, you are also exposing your germs to them. This can then manifest to others and rather than one person being off sick, the whole team is. If you commute to work on public transport, then you may have also spread any sickness to others too. So next time the doctor prescribes you some rest at home, please take heed of the advice.
This may not seem to be the most obvious piece of advice when it comes to having a healthier winter, but it does help. A number of studies have backed the claim that having a positive and optimistic outlook on life and challenges can have a beneficial impact on immunity. On a scientific level, the immune system has been found to react better to foreign bacteria and viruses with increased optimism. On a more broader spectrum, having a positive outlook on life often allows us to react to stressful situations more effectively, helping our general well being and mental health. Naturally, in life, there will be disappointments or bad situations, however, the idea of having a positive mindset, is having the ability to look at the situation realistically and work out ways to improve and reflect on the situation that has just passed.
With all of that in mind, I wish you all a happy and healthy winter season.
I hope that you have found this article helpful.
Take care and stay healthy,
Dr Nora x
Please note that the contents of this article are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical condition.