It’s no secret that the weather’s getting colder and the nights are getting longer, which means we’re starting to look at ways we can nurture our immune system for this year’s cold & flu season. While it’s important every year, we feel that it's even more pertinent this year because of certain reasons.
For most of our tukr team, we have at least one family member that might be more dramatically affected by this season. A family member who’s older or who is immunocompromised. This means that it’s also our duty to make sure that we’re not getting ourselves sick, as this increases the likelihood of them contracting the cold or flu, which may be a little more dangerous for them.
So in knowing this, what is it that our tukr team do when it comes to flu season?
1. Making sure we get the proper nutrients everyday
It goes without saying, but getting your daily recommended intakes of greens, fruits, grains, protein, calcium, fats, etc. is important in giving your body the tools it needs, not just to stave off infections, but to function properly. If your body isn’t getting what it needs to even function properly every day, then how can it really protect you from all the serious nasties out there?
2. Citrus Fruits
One of the most common immune boosters is Vitamin C. Whenever we start to feel a little run down, we automatically reach for an orange or a concoction involving lemon and honey. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells which is key to fighting infections. Because your body doesn’t naturally produce or store Vitamin C - it’s important to consume it daily for continued health.
You can find Vitamin C in: Oranges, Mandarins, Clementines, Lemon, Grapefruit, Tangerines & Lime.
3. Capsicum / Bell Peppers
On the topic of consuming more Vitamin C - did you know that these bad boys boast up to twice as much Vitamin C as citrus? Throw these in a stir fry, stuff them, add it to your pasta sauce, and thank us later.
These come supercharged with loads of vitamins and minerals - such as Vitamin A, C and E - as well as antioxidants and fibre. It’s quite possibly one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping it as nutrient-packed as possible is by cooking it very little, or not at all. This is because it delivers sulphorofane to your body, a cancer-thwarting compound that’s thought to stimulate your body’s detoxifying enzymes.
Not only is garlic super delicious and used in a huge variety of cuisines around the world. Early civilisations recognised its value in fighting infections. It also contains immune-boosting properties that seem to come from sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. It also helps to lower blood pressure and slow down the hardening of arteries.
This is another ingredient that many people turn to when they’re feeling sick or feeling nauseous. It can help to reduce inflammation, which is helpful in battling sore throats and other inflammatory diseases.
In a study with mice, it was found that eating cruciferous vegetables/greens send a chemical signal to the body that can help to boost specific cell-surface proteins that are necessary for an efficiently functioning immune system. These vegetables include bok choy, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, turnips, rocket and more.
Spinach is both rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similarly to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
9. Green tea
While both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant - green tea is the one that retains a higher level of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) another powerful antioxidant, which has been shown to enhance immune function. It is also a good source of amino acid L-theanine, which aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
This spice is well known for the anti-inflammatory properties that make it a useful ingredient to ease the discomfort of those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis - as well as relieving the symptoms of colds and flus.
Turmeric also helps to increase mucus production which helps to naturally flush out microbes that are clogging up your respiratory tracts. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties which can help fight infection.
Crabs, clams, mussels and lobster aren’t naturally what comes to mind when you think about boosting your immune system. However, some types of shellfish come packed with zinc. And while it doesn’t get to shine in the limelight often, or at all, it’s actually integral to the functioning of immune cells. Keep in mind that you wouldn’t want to go over the daily recommended amount of zinc for your body, as it can actually end up inhibiting your immune system. For men, this is 11mg. For women, 8mg.
12. Vitamin D
Going back to one of our earlier points, making sure that you’re getting the enough vitamins and nutrients is essential to keeping your body healthy, and therefore not making it harder for your immune system to protect you. Vitamin D deficiency affects over 30% of the Australian population, and a majority of this population may not even know it!
Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to poor bone growth, cardiovascular problems and a weaker immune system. Some good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, mushrooms, salmon and canned tuna. You can also buy and consume Vitamin D supplements. Choose ones that contain D3, as it's better at raising your blood level of Vitamin D.
13. Regular Exercise
So we’ve talked a lot about eating and nutrients, but another thing you should be doing… Regular exercise. It can help to keep inflammation and chronic diseases at bay as well as accelerate the circulation of white blood cells, your body’s disease-fighting cells that can combat the common cold. It can also help with stress management, which is important, as stress can suppress the immune system and make it harder to fight off bugs.
14. Stress Less
Which takes us to our next point. It’s so important to find a way to deal with stress, especially in the way that it works for you. Cortisol, which is a hormone released when you’re feeling stressed, is actually one of the things that help to fight against inflammation and disease.
However, for those who are constantly stressed, therefore constantly releasing this hormone, it actually becomes less effective in combatting illness. This results in increased inflammation and disease, as well as a less effective immune system.
15. Getting enough sleep
Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that if you’re not getting enough quality sleep, not only will you more likely get sick after being exposed to a virus, it can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Why’s this? According to MayoClinic, during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection, and sleep deprivation may reduce the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells appear to be reduced when you aren’t getting enough sleep.
16. Flu vaccine
To us, a flu vaccine isn’t necessarily just for groups of people who are more susceptible to illnesses. It’s also the responsibility of the people around these groups to make sure that they’re getting the right vaccinations to prevent the spread of illness to friends and loved ones. This is why we try to make an effort to get our shots every year to make sure that we're keeping those who are more vulnerable safe.
Have any other tips? We'd love to know in the comments! Otherwise, we hope everybody stays healthy and safe this flu season!
If you’re reading this and in Melbourne, you can probably agree with us that it is pretty darn cold these mornings. And as with every Winter, we brace ourselves for the Cold & Flu season, stocking up on panadol, tissues and vicks, preparing a huge batch of chicken broth for when the goings really get you down… Which leads us to our next question. Is chicken broth really the elixir of health and the cure for everything?
With all that's chaotic at the moment, we've been inspired to do a little more good in the world. After a major university became a recent client of ours, we've had some very real conversations with them about how the nature of the current situation is impacting our international student community.
For those who’ve been filling their trollies with bags full of air (plus a handful of chips) or blocks of chocolate - you’re probably going to be feeling a little bogged down in a second. It’s so easy to skip past the nuts and fruits, because sometimes they do look quite expensive. However, you need to weigh up the value this has to your health. And more often than not, a handful of nuts will satiate your cravings for savoury food (as well as keep you fuller) than even a full bag of chips.