Health

Nutrition: Look after yourself and get well soon

Soups packed with vegetables and spices are a fantastic way of supporting your immune system
Jane McClenaghan

WE have all been thinking a lot about the strength of our immune systems over the last 18 months.

This includes protecting our barrier defences by wearing masks, sanitising our hands and keeping our distance.

But sometimes, despite all our best efforts, we get hit by a bug and end up under the weather.

As well as Covid, there seems to be a lot of colds and bugs going around just now, so if you have been hit and are feeling a little under the weather, I have some ideas that might just help get you feel a little better.

1. Rest

If you are run down, one of the best things you can do is rest up. Give your body a chance to recover and repair. Often when we get sick, we feel exhausted. This is your body's way of telling you to slow things down. Listen to it. When we rest and sleep well, our immune system works hard to repair. Download a good book from Libraries NI, watch some Netflix, practise mindfulness or get into bed. It is not just OK to rest, it is essential to help you get well.

2. Nourish

Feed your immune system with nourishing, health foods. Foods that help balance inflammation, fuel immune cells and balance our gut microbiome are important. Our immune system is hungry for nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A, antioxidants, protein and healthy fats.

Forget sugary, refined and processed foods and drop the alcohol. Instead choose things that will support your body to heal and restore.

A good place to start is eating a wide variety of colourful fruit and vegetables. Add in some herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory properties, or immune balancing effects - think garlic, ginger, turmeric, thyme and rosemary.

Add a little protein from nuts and seeds, lean meat or fish, natural yoghurt or pulses and plenty of healthy fats from oily fish, olive oil, seeds and nuts.

If your appetite is not great, then keep things simple. Soups, packed with vegetables and spices are fantastic - chicken soup is a traditional remedy for colds and flus, and even better if you can add in some herbs and spices, and lots of veg.

When friends and family ask if they can do anything to help, ask them to cook your something nourishing. Porridge with stewed apple, a pot of soup or a home-made curry would be so welcomed by your immune system as it works hard to help you heal.

3. Supplement

Some nutrients have been shown to have anti-viral effects and are worth considering if you are run down. Supplementing with a good quality multi nutrient will add some additional zinc, selenium and B vitamins. Add in extra vitamin C and don't forget your daily dose of vitamin D.

Around 1,000mg vitamin C a few times a day for a short time can be beneficial. When paired with the anti-viral effects of elderberry, this may be even more effective.

4. Hydrate

Your immune system needs water to function well, so keep well hydrated with water and herbal teas. Try ginger or turmeric teas, or pop a little slice of root ginger with a lemon wedge into hot water in a flask and set it beside you to sip throughout the day.

Once you start to feel a little stronger, start some gentle exercise - yoga or walking would be good to help you regain your strength. Don't push things too soon.

Get outside every day and enjoy some fresh air. I hope this helps you feel as 'right as rain' in no time. Look after yourself and get well soon.

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