Body & Fitness

8 simple ways to boost your immunity

Qualified nutritionist Samantha Gemmell reveals her top tips for boosting your immunity.
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While we’ve been riding on the high of hot, sunny weather for months, it’s no secret that the days are getting cooler and with that comes the inevitable cold and flu season.

To help you build up your body’s immunity so it’s in tip-top shape to try and fight any cold that might come its way, we chat to qualified nutritionist Samantha Gemmell, who shares her best advice for winter wellness.

1. Get your garlic on

“If you love garlic, this is the thumbs-up to add as much as you like,” Samantha says.

Studies have shown that garlic consumption is associated with a reduced risk of getting sick, as well as a faster recovery from illness.

“When I was recovering from my cancer journey in my early 20s (about six months post-treatment) I was still getting sick every week. I even copped a triple infection at one stage!

“But then after reading about the research, I added 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic to my diet every day,” she reveals.

“After I started doing that, I didn’t get sick again for over six months!”

2. Include high-zinc food

Zinc is an essential mineral for your immune system says Samantha.

“Low zinc levels can affect the development of your immune cells and other immune defences against germs.

“Make sure you include zinc-rich foods like fish, shellfish, eggs, dark chocolate, cashews, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds.”

Keep your gut happy and immunity balanced by adding fermented foods to your diet. (Image: Getty)

3. Add some fermented foods

Did you know that about about 70 to 80 per cent of your immune system is actually located in your gut?

So, if you keep your gut happy, you keep your immunity balanced Samantha says.

“An easy way to do that is including fermented foods like natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha.”

5. Get plenty of rest

“Sleep is just as essential for preventing illness as it is for managing it,” Samantha says.

“It’s been shown that chronic sleep deprivation can suppress the immune system.

Everyone has different sleep needs, but the majority of people do best with an average of seven to nine hours sleep each night.”

During the cooler months, you may not get enough vitamin D from the sun, so it’s always good to check your vitamin D levels and figure out if you may need to take a supplement. (Image: Getty)

6. Be aware of your Vitamin D levels

We all know that vitamin D is good for us.

But what you might not know is that unless you’re living on the equator, the sun may not be strong enough for vitamin D production in the cooler months, Samantha reveals.

“When it comes to immunity, major studies show that vitamin D is protective against colds, flu and respiratory infections.

“While I don’t advise everyone runs off to take a high-dose supplement, it is good to check your levels before winter to see whether a supplement could be beneficial.”

7. Have some of Mum’s chicken soup

Believe it or not, the research supports a mug of chicken soup as a fix for when you’re sick.

“It has been shown to have numerous benefits for when you’re sick, supporting immunity and reducing inflammation,” Samantha explains.

“It can also break up mucus in the respiratory tract, so having it before bed might help you sleep better when you are sick.”

8. Stay calm and cool

“You can eat all of the nutritious foods, but if you’re stressing out, you’re at risk of getting sick,” explains Samantha.

“Stress depletes many vital nutrients, including zinc.

Find a way of managing your stress that works for you – be it yoga, journaling, arts and crafts, meditation or even cuddling your pets.”

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