Winter officially starts here in New Zealand next month, but it's starting to feel mighty chilly already.
Every year I get asked about the best ways to keep healthy over the colder months.
So, here are my top 5 tips on keeping well this winter - and guess what? Probiotics are right at the top!
1. Top of the list is: Probiotics
Taking a probiotic capsule or eating probiotic foods are a great way to fortify your immune system.
One of the jobs that probiotics have is to keep the lining of your gut healthy. This is one way that the body can figh infection from bacteria and viruses.
Some of the Lactobacillus strains are particularly effective at reducing the impact of colds and flu's. Sauerkraut is a great source of Lactobacillus.
There's a great review of different probiotics right here. Although the brands are mainly American (and generally I don't recommend purchasing probiotics from overseas - it's a quality control thing!), the information about probiotic strains is really useful.
If you want to read the research yourself, I found two great reviews right here and here. And a nice wee blog post here.
2. Next comes: Vitamin C and zinc.
Up to 1000mg of vitamin C and 30 mg of zinc have been shown to reduce the impact of coughs, colds and the flu by boosting the immune system.
Remember that kiwifruit and oranges are great sources of vitamin C, but did you know that those end-of-season red capsicums are a great source too?
Head over to NZ Nutrition Foundation and check out the best sources of vitamin C and zinc.
3. Sick? Stay home!
Do you remember that old saying "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases"? Well, do you know what? They do! If you're sick then stay home.
Not only do you allow yourself adequate healing time, but you don't pass the infection on to people on the bus / at school / at the supermarket / at work ... Remember that you're (usually) not indispensable at work, and your colleagues will love you more if you have some time off and contain your bad bugs!
4. Fill up on great nutrition (and avoid the packets)
Although the nights may be getting colder and darker, don't reach for the take-aways when you're feeling tired. Get out the crock pot (or grab one on sale or from the op shop) and come home to a delicious smell of hot, home-made food, all ready to be savoured!
Cook up a big batch of home-made soup, with heaps of veggies and meat like the one we found from the Healthy Food Guide Magazine. Great for lunches or dinners.
Your body will love you for giving it natural, whole food meals packed full of great vitamins, minerals and other immune-boosting nutrients.
5. Finally, get enough sleep
Don't waste the longer evenings watching TV until the early hours.
Skipping a good night sleep means your immune system will pay - putting you at more risk of getting colds, coughs and flu's AND it has them hanging around for longer if you do get sick. You can have more of about how sleep might affect your immune system - have a read right here.
Tuck yourself up warm and have a good night sleep.
Katrina Pace, Dietitian
Gut bugs fascinate me. Diet and gut bugs intrigue me. Cooking is essential. Add them all together and you get a fairly interesting opinion on life! In my humble opinion.