We’re all familiar with the popular adage: ‘we are what we eat’. A fundamental aspect of health and wellbeing, especially at this time of year in Melbourne – is nutrition. In fact, the right foods not only support the formation of every cell in our body, they also nourish our bodies, boost our immune system, and assist in essential recovery and healing.
Immune System Boosting Foods | Immune Health and Nutrition
Health professionals commonly advise us to: ‘eat all the colours of the rainbow’ to ensure we gain an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables; vitamins and minerals. In terms of an immune system boosting diet, Doctors often state the benefits of Iron, Zinc, Vitamins B, C and D, and therefore recommend a high intake of leafy, green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, silverbeet, etc;) moderating red meat intake, and incorporating wholefoods such as brown rice and legumes (beans, peas, etc). Wholefoods such as rolled oats are also vital to support our digestive system, which is becoming more widely understood with greater research into the overall benefits of gut health.
Hydration | Immune Health and Nutrition
Whilst not always easy during Winter in Melbourne, maintaining an adequate intake of water is highly essential to sustaining overall health! In fact, water supports every system and tissue of the body to perform every aspect of our lives – including the vital circulation of blood, and necessary removal of waste products via our Lymphatic system. Another essential role of the Lymphatic system is to combat viruses and infections. As such, Doctors recommend 6 – 8 glasses of water daily (1.5 – 2 L).
During illness, fluid is often lost through coughing, sneezing or a running nose. Replacing fluids in this time is therefore crucial. There are many ways to increase your intake and enjoyment of water naturally however. Adding sliced lemon, orange, or diced ginger or kiwifruit to water for example, are effective immunity boosting options.
Sugar | Immune Health and Nutrition
As sugar is found naturally in many foods, including fresh and dried fruit, it’s important to consider healthier options, and consume sugar in moderation. Reducing sugar intake lowers cholesterol and obesity – one of the leading causes of cardiovascular (heart) disease. An alternative is to exchange a nutrient poor food choice for a healthier alternative, with higher nutritional value. For example, swapping milk chocolate for dark chocolate with minimum 70 percent cocoa content to maximise antioxidant intake.
Tea and Coffee
Whilst certain tea, such as green tea is known to provide beneficial vitamins and minerals; standard black tea and coffee however are diuretics, resulting in water loss – and should therefore be minimised to reduce dehydration. Another option to enjoy tea includes incorporating herbal options. For example, Chamomile tea is known for its calming properties, whilst Mint and Ginger tea are excellent options for digestion.
Like many vices, alcohol is considered a toxin by health professionals that should therefore be moderated effectively to maintain balance. This is due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol, combined with the stress it places on the body to filter alcohol via our livers. Considering healthier alternatives when consuming alcohol, and managing consumption, are simple ways to balance negative effects. For example, swapping beer for a glass of red wine with dinner, to maximise the intake of beneficial antioxidants.
Mental Health Support
If you would like to access confidential mental health support during this time, Beyond Blue can be reached online: www.beyondblue.org.au or by phone: 1300 224 636
For further information regarding self care options, including free 15 minute Telehealth consultations, please contact us via email or book online. Access to free resources including our stretch and exercise video library, can also be found on our website.