Five Ways to Boost Your Immunity this Winter

Its winter time and having two small children I am preparing for the days (weeks!) of runny noses and snotty sleeves (why do they do that?) So far so good but I feel there is one lurking behind every sneeze! As adults we do more things that suppress our immune system than kids as we tend to have busier, more stressful lives. Also, the food and drink choices we make are not always the healthiest which can make us more susceptible to catching bugs. Here are 5 ways to help your immune system run efficiently.

1. Fermented foods
Our body is actually made up of 10 x more bacterial cells than human cells! They naturally live all over our skin and throughout the digestive tract. 80% of your immune system is in your gut so you want to foster the good bugs as they are the most helpful to our bodies. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi contain the probiotic bacteria that that live in your digestive system. Supplementation of probiotics is a good idea as well, especially if you or anyone in your family has been on antibiotics.

2. Fats
Fats get a bad wrap, simply because they are called ‘fat’ they are actually very necessary to our bodies as they help make and transport hormones and other important chemicals in our body. All of our cells are made with fat, which includes the immune system.  Coconut oil is a great healthy source of fat. It contains lauric acid which has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is processed through the liver and turned into energy so doesn’t get stored in your cells making it completely ‘non fattening’.  Butter is also a great fat, it contains vitamin A, E and D all of which are important vitamins involved in regulating your immune system.  Cold pressed virgin olive oil also is a healthy fat which is high in antioxidants and is antiviral.

3. Green foods
Green foods are a power house of nutrients. They are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and contain other immune stimulating natural chemicals like syvestrol. Organic or home grown is best as they generally have more nutrients in the soil which the plants uptake into their cells which gets passed on to ours when we eat them. Other ‘green foods’ are spiralina, barley grass, wheat grass which can be included in a smootie with no change in taste. If smoothies feel to cold for you over winter make a hearty vegetable soup, but don’t simmer the veges to long as you will lose some of the nutrients. (Pesto is also another great way to get your greens in).

4.Go with the winter hibernation mode.
Or body naturally goes into hibernation mode over winter meaning we feel like doing less things. Try not to do to over commit and make room to have some down time and even some weekends just at home. You will be amazed at how relaxing it can feel not having to rush out the door to get anywhere!   Sleep is very important too, and in winter we do want to sleep more so try at least once a week to go to bed by 9.30 pm. (That doesn’t mean taking a book to bed, but to actually sleep!) This gives your body a chance to repair any damaged cells and process the days events so you wake refreshed and ready for the next day. Taking magnesium at night can help you get to sleep as it relaxes your muscles and your mind.

5. Watch your caffeine levels
It’s been especially cold and wet so far and so warm drinks just feel better. This can lead to an increase in caffeine as the tea and coffee count adds up. The Stimulating effects of caffeine are similar to the body’s own response under stress and chronic stress weakens our immune system. (Stress can reduce your immune systems ability to work properly by 50%!) Caffeine also pulls out calcium and other mineral stores in your body reducing the amount it is able to utilise for maintaining and repairing cells and keeping the immune system in balance.  Keeping in check or even reducing your caffeine over winter may help you keep the bugs at bay. A couple of hot drinks that don’t contain caffeine and will warm you up as well are chai and ginger and lemon drink.  Ginger has the ability to increase circulation to your extremities, helping to keep your hands and feet warm. It is also anti inflammatory and calming to your nervous system. It is present in both drinks in the fresh root form which you can get from any supermarket or fruit and vege shop.

Real Chai tastes nothing like the café kind that is super sweet and has not a lot of flavour. Proper chai has a delicious spicy flavour and heat that flows through out your body thanks to the warming qualities of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.  Here is my version of chai   This recipe makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups of milk, can be any kind; cow, almond, oat or soy
  • 1 x 5 cm piece of raw ginger skinned and grated
  • 3 cardamom pods cracked
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 rooibos tea bag
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan except maple syrup and slowly bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. Pour ingredients though a tea strainer and add maple syrup to taste. (I use 1 teaspoon per cup)

This is very soothing to a sore throat and boosts the immune system as the lemon contains vitamin c and the manuka honey has antibacterial and anti viral properties.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root
  • Half fresh lemon, squeezed
  • Manuka honey to taste.
  1. Boil water
  2. Add 2 slices of ginger root squeeze half a lemon in it.
  3. Let sit for 3 minutes to release the volatile oils from the ginger.
  4. Add manuka honey to taste (I use about ½ teaspoon)


JennyJenny is Bella Mama’s registered Naturopath and Nutritionist specialising in pregnancy as well as women’s and children’s health.

Jenny has been in practice for the last 10 years both in Sydney Australia where she trained and for the last 5 in Auckland.  Jenny has worked for a long time in the field of allergies but since having her own two children she has found her passion is supporting women through the journey of pregnancy and the ever important post natal period. Having also studied touch for health and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Jenny can also help women resolve any emotional traumas that may be negatively impacting on their life.

With a love for healthy food, Jenny is a fountain of knowledge for the right things we should be eating to maintain and support optimum health and immunity as well as foods that will increase energy levels and vitality.

To book an appointment with Jenny call us on 4457591

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