Dr Naomi Newman-Beinart, PhD explains the best lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to boost immunity and fight off colds fast
Catching a winter cold and suffering from seasonal sniffles can happen to the best of us, but why do we seem to struggle more during the festive season?
‘The accumulation of late nights combined with social gatherings – that include a lot of alcohol – and the indulgences of rich, fatty and sugary foods, can all play havoc with our natural resilience and leave us far more susceptible to catching a cold,’ says Dr Naomi Newman-Beinart, PhD, Nutritionist (BSc) and Chartered Psychologist specialising in Health.
Catching a winter cold and suffering from seasonal sniffles can happen to the best of us
To make it even worse, those that really give their immune systems a run for their money by burning the candle at both ends and not topping up on extra vitamins and foods to help recovery, can find it even harder to shake off the symptoms once they come down with a virus.
This lack of immunity TLC can usually result in them often having to deal with a chesty cough, tiredness and a runny nose that may linger around for weeks.
Dr Naomi Newman-Beinart, PhD picks her top 10 most effective natural remedies and lifestyle hacks to help you feel well and stay well…
#1 Top up on your nutritional winter warriors
If you’re someone who works long hours, with busy personal and family schedules, you will find that you may be more susceptible to any viruses that are going around – everyone I know that has young children seem to struggle with more pesky colds than those that don’t.
Taking care of your immune system by ensuring that you aren’t lacking any vital vitamins and minerals, is essential.
I recommend taking a high-quality multivitamin and mineral complex to ensure that you are getting everything you need this Winter.
I personally take Evity multivitamins with my breakfast each day as they are really affordable and include high-quality, science-based nutrients.
Plus, their multivitamin complex contains essential nutrients for immune support including Vitamin A, C and D, selenium and zinc.
#2 Step away from the sugar to stay sniffle free
Try and avoid all of the refined sugar that’s doing the rounds this festive season.
Research shows that sugar can weaken your immune system by stopping your virus from destroying white blood cells from doing their job.
Research shows that sugar can weaken your immune system
White blood cells are supposed to destroy viruses in your body, but as little as 75g of sugar can stop them from functioning properly – this is pretty scary when you think about the fact that one mince pie or a glass of fizzy drink contains around 35g sugar!
#3 Make time for medicinal mushrooms
Mushrooms are high in beta-glucans – natural substances that have been found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off bugs and germs.
However, if you really want to up your immune power, certain types of mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake are especially rich in the most powerful immune-supportive beta-glucans.
So, getting a daily dose of these mushrooms when you feel rundown or indulging a little too much in the festive foods and drinks, could be beneficial to help prevent and fight off colds and help you to recover quicker.
If you don’t have the time to include these mushrooms in some gourmet cooking, try taking two capsules of Hifas da Terra Bio-Defense mushroom formula each morning.
#4 Up your intake of brightly coloured fruit and veg
Let’s be realistic here – most of us crave warming carbs to get us through the winter, but it’s important to up your daily RDA to ensure you have the natural plant power to keep you healthy.
Research has found that people who eat more fruit and veg seem to have a better immune function. One study in Germany found that healthcare workers who consumed more fruit and veg had 20 per cent fewer colds throughout the time of the study.
An added bonus is that fruit and veg are also great for your skin and overall health. If you are busy and always on the go, I recommend the Fogamatic wellness system.
It’s easy to use anywhere and everywhere, just add water, whizz and enjoy a vitamin boost.
#5 Spice up your immune system
Herbs and spices have been used medicinally since ancient times and warming spices, such as ginger, clove and cinnamon, are a simply delicious way to keep you healthy over winter.
There are a number of studies have shown that ginger can enhance immune function and it has even been hailed as having both antiviral and antibacterial effects – so start adding fresh ginger to your herbal teas and cooking and reap the benefits of this super spice.
Turmeric is another spice that has been the focus of much research over the past few years for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
a number of studies have shown that ginger can enhance immune function
Research has also shown that curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, is powerful for immune health.
It has been found to be an immunomodulator, which means that it is able to suppress or stimulate the immune system to help fight off illness.
You can find out more about the health and immunity benefits of spices at www.herbalreality.com, a great website written by leading wellness experts to learn all about the medicinal benefits of herbs.
#6 Up your ante on the Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a staple in my supplement cupboard all year round, but it is especially good to take when you are feeling really run down.
If you are burning the candle at both ends, be sure to up your ante on Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a well researched natural ingredient to support your immune system and energy levels when feeling run down.
Add fresh lemon juice to warm water or your herbal tea every day, and for an additional natural and convenient liquid boost, try Yourzooki liposomal Vitamin C 1000mg. You can drink it straight from the sachet or add it to drinks or food.
#7 BEE healthy, BE happy
Gwyneth Paltrow, Fearne Cotton, Jasmine Hemsley, and Leah Wood are all fans of UnBEElieveable Health, which harnesses bee superfoods with plant-based nutrients, all of which have proven benefits.
The hero ingredients include bee propolis and bee pollen which have been the subject of over 2,000 studies for their benefits on health, immunity, skin conditions, and their antibiotic and antiviral properties.
Bee Prepared also contains therapeutic quantities of high quality, plant-sourced, immune-supporting nutrients, all of which have a proven history of benefits including olive leaf, elderberry, olive leaf, acerola cherry and beta-glucans.
bee propolis and bee pollen which have been the subject of over 2,000 studies for their benefits on health
Bee Prepared Daily Defence may be taken daily or as needed – for colds and flu, when run down, or when recovering from a serious illness.
#8 Keep calm and DO NOT carry on
As much as you want to fast-track your recovery from illness so you can get back to work and your social life, it’s important to know that when we are ill our body needs to recover. And this is important not only for you to stay well, but to also stop spreading your illness to others.
If you are stressed (this can also include strenuous exercise), it will be harder for your body to get well due to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol is helpful in small doses, but prolonged stress can lead to too much cortisol, which might actually suppress your immune system, taking you longer to recover.
What can you do to try and keep your cortisol levels under control? Try deep belly breathing and don’t fill your calendar with too many Zoom meetings – just focus on relaxation and recovery.
#9 Think before you drink
Just like sugar, alcohol can suppress immunity.
Research shows that drinking more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week, or more than five to six drinks at one time, can suppress your immune response, reducing your ability to cope with infectious illnesses.
If you find it hard to get over colds, stay booze-free as much as you can and try some alcohol-free options while your body gets back into tip-top form.
You can find many great-tasting alcohol free drinks these days so you don’t have to feel like you are stuck with a boring selection of soft drinks.
Take a look at drydrinker.com for some alcohol-free drink inspiration.
#10 Want to avoid YET another cold? Wear a mask when you travel
Our immune system is always working to protect us, that’s its job.
It gets used to the environment we are in, but when travelling around in public places, such as tubes, trains and planes, it has to work even harder to cope with all of the different viruses and germs going around.
If you often get sick when travelling and don’t want to arrive at your family’s house with a cold two days later, then wearing a mask when travelling might help to protect you from droplets in the air that may contain germs.
wearing a mask when travelling might help to protect you from droplets in the air
The same can be said when in busy areas doing your Christmas shopping. The important thing here is to make sure you choose a mask that is actually going to protect you.
Silver Life masks are reusable up to 100 washes and that are registered as Type 2 PPE (this is classed as a medical mask).
Silver Life use breathable and comfortable silver-based 3D knitted technology and meets the World Health Organization’s recommendations for use against the current microbial pandemic, as well as protecting you from the regular cold virus.