There’s a lot to love about Autumn and the colder months. Cosy evenings, beautiful colours, Halloween, Diwali, the run-up to Christmas. However, Autumn also marks the beginning of flu-season, and can be a tough period for your immune system. We all know the feeling, a throat like sandpaper, aches from head to toe, a temperature through the roof… There’s not much worse than waking up in the throes of a troublesome virus.
Whilst it’s impossible to completely rule out being struck down by seasonal illness, there are a number of small lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your immune system working effectively. Many of these changes are easy to incorporate into a busy schedule, and thanks to Feedr you can even implement some of them from the comfort of your desk! Read on to see our list of ten handy tips to keep you glowing this Autumn.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Eating your five-a-day seems to be the answer to everything these days. But studies have shown that consuming a balanced diet with plenty of nutrients does indeed help to maintain strong immune function. Blueberries, broccoli, sweet potato and spinach for example, all contain antioxidants that help to support immune system health. Oranges, kiwis and red peppers play their part too. They contain vitamin C, which not only fights colds and flus, but can also reduce their duration.
As a rule of thumb, a colourful diet is a good diet, and many immune system do-gooders come in vibrant colours.
Get enough sleep
Sleep. The magic five letters. Everyone loves it, but not many of us get enough of it. In fact, according to studies only 17% of UK adults get the recommended eight hours a night. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body doesn’t produce as many infection fighting antibodies, and this can leave you susceptible to illness. Furthermore, if you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll recover from infection more slowly. So make sure you’re getting your beauty sleep and let your immune system take care of the rest.
There’s a load of stuff you can do to ensure you get a good night’s kip. Everything from avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, to reading a book and even investing in some good quality bedding can help you and your immune system wake up feeling ready to take on the day.
Eat more fermented foods
Fermentation is an ancient process involving the breakdown of carbs by bacteria and yeast. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt contain probiotics, which provide your gut with healthy bacteria and give your immune system an effective boost. On top of this, many fermented foods are rich in vitamin C, iron and zinc, which all contribute to a stronger immune system. Drinks such as kefir and kombucha also contain many of the same helpful probiotics, and it’s well worth considering working some of these into your diet too.
Loads of our wonderful vendors serve up fermented treats, we love Club Cultured’s zingy Kimchi in particular. Take a look at their menu here.
There’s a number of reasons why staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy immune system. Firstly because our immune system depends on our bloodstream, and its ability to transport nutrients around the body. Our bloodstream is primarily made up of water, so if we’re not drinking enough fluids, then it becomes much harder for our bodies to carry nutrients to each organ.
Furthermore, staying hydrated also helps to flush toxins and bacteria out of our bodies. It’s also worth noting that not drinking enough fluids can cause problems of its own, such as headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
Sip some broth
We make broth by slowly simmering bones or vegetables in order to extract the nutrients and minerals. It’s an ancient cooking technique which is not only super healthy but very efficient too. Broths contain an assortment of different amino acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory effects and are a great source of protein. It’s also packed with bioavailable vitamins and minerals, which are easy for the body to absorb. This means aside from boosting immune function, if you’re already feeling run down, broth can be the perfect source of energy and nourishment to get you back to your best.
There’s a whole host of Feedr vendors who can give you your fix of healthy broth, from Shoop Soup to Shoryu Ramen. Have a browse through them here.
Limit your sugar intake
Studies indicate that spikes in sugar levels can suppress the immune system for up to five hours after consumption. Food and drinks high in sugar such as processed foods, soft drinks and even alcohol can hinder the work of white blood cells, therefore making it harder for the body to fight illness. If you want the best for your immune system but also have a bit of a sweet tooth, then reach instead for sugar alternatives such as honey, maple syrup or agave.
Work exercise into your routine
As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it can be harder to find time to fit exercise into what is already a busy working day. However, there’s a large number of studies showing that exercising regularly can be a really effective way of improving your immune function. Exercise not only flushes bacteria out of the lungs and airways, but also improves the circulation of antibodies and white blood cells. This means that being active helps your body to detect illness faster and better equips it to respond.
Living an active lifestyle makes it all the more important to eat the right things. Ordering your lunch through Feedr ensures that you can eat healthily at work, whether it’s a nutritious post-workout breakfast or a protein-packed lunch.
Ditch the coffee for green tea
For lots of us, a morning coffee (or five) is a fundamental part of our daily routine. And actually, when consumed in moderation, the caffeine in coffee can act as an immunomodulator, which helps to regulate the immune system. However, Brits consume 95 million cups of coffee every day, and studies show that similar levels of coffee are drunk in Ireland, therefore it’s safe to say that quite a number of us go a little overboard with our caffeine intake.
Whether it’s a latté, mocha, frappé or iced coffee, too much coffee leads to an excess of Cortisol, which can alter immune system responses. Caffeine also impacts sleep, and as we’ve already discussed, getting forty winks is vital when it comes to looking after the immune system.
That’s where green tea comes in. Like coffee, green tea contains caffeine, just in much smaller quantities, and this is what makes it the perfect morning alternative. Green tea has been used as a sickness remedy for centuries because it contains a high number of antioxidants and is even said to stop viruses from turning into infections later down the line. If you’re not already sold on the benefits of green tea, remember that it doesn’t dehydrate you in the same way as coffee, meaning it’s a handy way to stay hydrated too.
Eat more nuts and seeds
Seeds such as flax seeds are great to start introducing into your diet as they are high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Brazil nuts are also full of nutrient boosters, and you only need to eat a handful of them daily to reap the benefits. Walnuts contain omega 3, and the right amount of omega 3 helps keep your body running optimally. Last but not least, sunflower seeds are full of vitamin-E, which is a useful tool for regulating the immune system.
All of these are perfect between-meal snacks, and the best part is that you don’t need to consume bucketloads of them to feel the positive effects.
The Açai Girls have a whole load of dishes containing healthy nuts and seeds that can help to boost your immune system. See their vibrant menu here.
Sometimes, when it comes to fighting illness, all that’s missing is a little bit of self love. A chance to kick back and recover from the stresses of the day. Relaxing properly helps us to recover from stress, which is known to have a ravaging effect on the immune system. Relaxation also encourages good sleep habits, and as we’ve mentioned quite a few times now, sleep is one of your immune system’s best friends. In short, although you might be busy, taking some time out to focus on yourself can be one of the best things for you in the long run.
So whether it’s an extra long bath, a spa day, or a meal out to your favourite restaurant, go ahead and treat yourself. We’re not judging.
Eating well is central to an effective immune system, and with the help of Feedr it’s simpler than ever to ensure you’re eating the right things at work. Head to our website to see how we can help you and your colleagues stay healthy at the office and browse through our blog for more food and lifestyle content.