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Healthy Winter Recipes That Taste Amazing And Tips To Boost Your Immune System Ahead Of Winter!

Thermometer showing freezing temperatures. Tips on how to boost your immune system during the colder months. Click the picture to be taken to the health and wellbeing links section of my website

It's that time of year - the weather starts to get much colder. The swampy blankets come out; the thick jumpers complete with all the back of the drawer cobwebs one-by-one take pride of place on the good hangers at the front of the wardrobe. The kettle never seems to stop boiling for all the hot drinks. The washing machine is always on courtesy of the constant rain and snow causing the unavoidable mud slide to form in the front garden and, of course, winter just wouldn't be winter without those pesky viral flu particles just daring to infect us! If you've got kids, it's even worse because they bring home a Petri dish of germs from nursery and school and guess who ends up with the coughs, colds and tummy bugs? Yes, it's you! At the same time as you have to work and take care of the house, kids, the laundry, the meals, the in-laws, the parents, and significant other, you also have to combat viruses and infections the little darlings bring into the house.


So, what can we do to naturally boost our immune systems ahead of winter 2023?


Tip#1 Make sure to eat the rainbow. The more colourful your diet is with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, the more of a range of vitamins and minerals you will be getting, especially Vitamin C which is essential for a healthy immune system. Make sure to clean your fruits and vegetables either as soon as you unload your shopping or just prior to eating them. A tip for cleaning your fruits and vegetables to rid them of both the wax coating and any pesky bugs and fly droppings to ensure they last considerably longer, is to use a combination of food safe distilled white vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. The easiest way to do this is using a very large bowl such as a mixing bowl or even your kitchen sink provided it is thoroughly cleaned and has no remnants of cleaning products or dish soap. The ratio is simple, for every 4 cups of water you use, add 1 cup of the vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon of the sodium bicarbonate. Leave the fruit and vegetables to soak for about 15 minutes then drain. Thoroughly rinse off and dry either using a produce spinner or paper towels. This should keep your produce fresh for considerably longer than simply using water alone.


Tip#2 Indulge in hearty casseroles and soups. This is the time of year when the cast iron casserole pot and the slow cooker come into their own. You may already have recipes of your own but if not, check out my recipes for hearty lamb casserole and my tummy warming and immune boosting curried pumpkin/butternut squash and lentil soup. I make them both in big batches and keep several containers of them in the freezer with individual portions for any time my family get run down or it is particularly cold outside. You can find the recipes by clicking on the hyperlinks above for each. They are highly nutritious and packed full of protein and vitamin C to boost your immune system.


Tip#3 Don't underestimate the power of ginger. Ginger is an amazing versatile root that grows underground. It is jam-packed with nutrients and is widely used in Asian cuisine, tea-making and medicine. Even though it is a root, it is considered a spice and packs quite a punch when eaten raw. The uses of ginger are broad and in the colder winter months, ginger can quickly become an essential part of a healthy diet, especially for people with weakened immune systems. If you have a juicer, try juicing orange, lemon and ginger together and mix with some fresh apple juice and turmeric to make a juice shot. There are several recipes that can be found online for various juice combinations. You could also try making a nice herbal tea using the same ingredients, but this time chop the ginger into small pieces and slice the orange and lemon, add everything to a pan over the stove top and add a teaspoon of honey. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for a few minutes, then put a rice sieve over a large jug and pour the mixture into the sieve so that the liquid filters into the jug and the sieve catches the pieces of ginger, orange and lemon. If necessary, add more honey or turmeric, depending on how you prefer the taste, and pour the liquid from the jug into a mug and enjoy a nice healthy drink that will boost your immune system and warm your tummy!


Tip#4 Multivitamins. Sometimes we can have a healthy diet but, due to factors we have no control over, our bodies need a little helping hand. Multivitamins are designed to complement a healthy diet and fill in any gaps that may exist. It is particularly important to make sure we get enough B-vitamins in our diet as their function is to help our bodies release energy from the food we eat as well as keeping our nervous system and blood healthy. B-vitamins are water soluble which means that our bodies can't store them in our bodily cells in the same way as it can for other vitamins and minerals, so we must replace the B-vitamins daily to stay healthy. B-vitamins also help the body to absorb nutrients from the food we eat such as iron. If your body doesn't get enough iron, you can become anaemic which is not a good thing for your immune system. You get B-vitamins mainly from animal products such as eggs, meat, butter, poultry but also from fish, seeds and dark leafy greens. Vitamin B-12 injections are also available from your doctor in circumstances where you cannot get it from your diet.


Tip#5 Wrap up warm. Remember your gran saying to you, "Zip that coat up or you'll catch a cold and don't forget your hat, scarf and gloves!". Well, it turns out gran was right, you actually can catch a cold from being cold! The colder temperatures put a strain on your immune system making it work harder to protect you from getting sick. When nasal tissue is exposed to very cold air, scientists have found that it makes us much more susceptible to being infected with viruses such as the common cold, the flu, and even Covid-19, to name a few. This is because the cold temperatures make our immune system work harder than normal and puts it under strain. It is therefore not as fast at responding to the presence of the virus as it should be. This delayed response from the immune system gives those viral particles time to both stick to and infect the cells in our noses which in turn make us sick.  It is therefore important to keep our bodies warm and not allow ourselves to get too cold. Keeping warm during the winter months will also protect your heart as the cold narrows your blood vessels. Consider a selection of blankets and hot water bottles to keep you warm when at home and dress in layers as heat gets trapped between the layers of clothing effectively insulating you and keeping you warm.


Tip#6 Wash your hands. In the colder months we spend a lot more time indoors and generally in closer proximity to other people than in the warmer months. It is therefore important to make sure that we frequently wash and sanitize our hands, especially if anybody in our household is sick. As mentioned above, people are more at risk of getting sick when the temperature is colder as the immune system is working harder, so make sure to avoid passing on any illnesses by washing your hands frequently. It is always a good idea to carry around a pocket-size bottle of hand sanitizer to use on the go.


Tip#7 Make sure you get sufficient sleep. Sleep isn't just down time for your brain, your immune system and cells use this time to repair your body while you sleep so don't skimp on it. This is also the time when your immune system fights off any nasties that are trying to invade your body.


Stress and immunity


Tip#8 Keep your stress levels in check. Stress massively negatively impact your immune system so make sure to keep your stress levels under control. If you are struggling with feeling stressed or overwhelmed, perhaps try yoga or guided meditation? You also have the option of a spa day or going for a walk outside and enjoy nature. If exercise is your way of unwinding, why not visit the local gym? You can purchase a day pass or monthly subscription from most gyms. Maybe you like to cook to unwind? Chat to friends and family or even ask your family doctor to refer you for some talk therapy or counselling. Whatever you enjoy doing, it is important that you let yourself relax and unwind.

 

Tip#9 Eat a bit of dark chocolate. When you eat chocolate, your mood improves and the darker the chocolate the better. This is because eating a small amount of chocolate alters the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain chemistry. When chocolate’s primary ingredient, cocoa, enters the blood stream, the phenylethylamine it contains (also known as the “love drug”) gives the person eating it the same feeling of being ‘in love’, which is why a person’s mood improves when eating chocolate. There are obviously a few downsides to eating chocolate though as too much of it can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of obesity, so eat it in moderation and enjoy as part of a healthy diet.

 

Is there anything else that can be done to help my immune system this winter?


Tip#10 Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol puts stress on the internal organs, especially the heart and liver which already have to work harder in colder weather. So, make sure to limit your alcohol intake during the colder months and stick to safe limits, as you could be doing damage to yourself without realising it.

 

Tip#11 Stay hydrated and keep your skin moisturised. Your skin and internal organs are a huge part of keeping your immune system healthy. Keep your hydration levels up to stop your skin from cracking and to keep your internal organs working happily and healthily. Make sure to keep your skin moisturised during the colder months to prevent cracks that can allow bacteria to enter into your body. This is especially important on the hands and face as these areas are exposed to the colder air more than others.

 

Tip#12 Wear a mask. If you are going into a very crowded place, consider continuing to wear a mask if you can. This will prevent you from catching any viruses and infections that are being passed around. Especially those that are airborne.

 

Tip#13 Get your flu jab. If you are eligible, get your flu jab. Influenza can be very nasty if you get it, in some instances it can be fatal so make sure you and your family get your flu jabs.

 

Tip#14 Give your home and car a thorough “winter clean”. Just like in the Springtime we give our homes a Spring clean, prior to winter it’s a good idea to give both your house and car a winter deep clean to rid them both of nasty bugs and viruses that can linger around in the cold weather, especially if you have kids and pets.

 

Please remember, this time of year can be particularly trying for older people and people who are vulnerable with weakened immune systems and disabilities, so please be sure to take a few minutes to check in on friends, neighbours and relatives, to make sure they are safe and healthy. If you enjoy my blog posts, please stay tuned for more upcoming posts and as always if you have anything specific you want me to do a post on, please feel free to send me an email and we can make it happen xx


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Laura, I'm a blogger, a vlogger, a working mum with a busy household, and I love to shop online. In my blog you'll find lifestyle tips and tricks to help you get organised and hopefully make your daily life a little easier.

 

You'll also find links to products and various items I firmly believe make day-to-day life that little happier (and sometimes even that bit prettier). I will frequently be adding more as the weeks go on, so if you like what you see then watch this space......

 

I've had so much fun creating this website for all of you, and I really hope you enjoy it too and find inspiration in my blog posts and the various items linked in them. 

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If you have something in particular you want me to put up a blog or a vlog about or any questions, please send me an email and let me know xoxo

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