Winter Immunity

Top Tips from experts to keep you and your family healthy during the cold season

Coughs & Sneezes Spread Diseases

A cold winter has been predicted for us this year which could spell a season of coughs, colds and sore throats for many, especially for those looking after young children or grandchildren, and people commuting. A sneeze in your direction, a hand on an infected surface followed by a rub of an eye, and bang, you’ve got it.

Good health is very much dependent upon maintaining a strong immune system, particularly at this time of year when everyone around you is falling prey to all those winter bugs. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can improve your immunity to enhance your overall health and fend of coughs, colds and the dreaded flu.

Get moving

Regular exercise increases the level of leukocytes, the immune system cells that fight infection. Keeping active is also linked with increased levels of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones that pump up your sense of well-being and improve sleep quality; both of which are thought to have positive effects on your immune system. Get your heart rate up for just 20 minutes, three times a week to boost immune function. A brisk walk, five days a week, can also help reduce your risk of catching a cold. But don’t overdo it. It’s important to listen to your body as over-exercising can leave you tired and too weak to resist infections.

Work, rest, play and sleep!

A good night’s sleep is important to allow your body to fight viral infections and repair any cell damage from the day before. Several studies reveal that insomniacs have fewer infection-fighting cells and are more likely to get colds and flu than their more rested peers. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid coffee, alcohol, vigorous exercise and a heavy meal for four hours before turning in. Try Zenbev a natural drink made from pumpkin seeds and clinically proven to promote a natural and healthy sleep.  It can be taken during the day or at bedtime to provide a powerful source of tryptophan, which by day is metabolized into the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin and regulates mood, and by night into the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin which is essential for sound sleep. priced £24.95 for a 250g tub

Eat well, stay well

Rob Hobson, Healthspan, Head of Nutrition says, “As we age we need less calories but our bodies still have the same nutrient requirements and it is important we eat more calcium and watch our iron levels. A diet containing plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains is key. The reason? All these foods are rich in the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are needed for immune cells to function properly. To get your daily quota of antioxidants, eat a variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.”

Prevention is better than cure

Herbal help is available from Echinacea. A research study was undertaken at the Bute Medical School, University of St. Andrews to understand how Echinacea affects the immune response in humans. Led by Dr. Margaret Ritchie using A.Vogel Echinaforce the study concluded that Echinacea works in three ways:

  1. It supports the Immune system and enhances the immune response only when needed
  2. The combination of the root and herb when combined have a synergistic action that reduces inflammation in the body
  3. Echinaforce showed very potent anti-viral activity, particularly when fresh extract is used and the effect might be equivalent to or better than other commonly used over the counter treatments

Try the A.Vogel range of Echinaforce products from tinctures to chewable tablets and hot drinks; there’s also an Echinacea Sore Throat Spray.

Top Up On Vitamin D

During the winter the days are shorter and cloudy making it difficult to get enough vitamin D. New guidelines for vitamin D suggest that we take a supplement of 10mcg daily. Try Healthspan Super Strength Vitamin D3 (£11.95 for 240 tablets).

Add laughter to your life

Dr Uchenna Okoye, Cosmetic Dentist from says: “Laughter genuinely could be considered to be the best medicine. Studies have indicated that watching a funny video boosts natural killer cell activity, vital for maintaining defense against infections.” Indeed, whole books have been written on the subject of healing and overcoming illness just through laughter therapy. Getting together with friends and having a really good laugh should be high on the priority list of any health seeker. Indeed, having strong relationships and a good social network are essential for health; research has confirmed this time and again.

Look after your gut health

‘Probiotics help improve the immune response,’ says Professor Glenn Gibson, a microbiologist at Reading University. “About 70% of the human immune response arises from the gut. This is principally because of the trillions of bacteria which reside there and taking a probiotic daily especially during winter will help combat winter infections. Studies have shown that recovery from the flu or a cold can be markedly sped up during probiotics intake by around a day.” Invest in a good quality probiotic such as Healthspan Super20 Pro which p provides the perfect blend of twenty billion live pro cultures in three carefully selected ‘friendly’ bacteria strains, (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacteria lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus). Also look to support the growth of good bacteria in the gut with A.Vogel Molkosan. Made from whey obtained from organic milk, Molkosan® is rich in a substance known as L+ lactic acid which is known to support the growth of good gut bacteria (£5.99, 200mls from pharmacies and health food stores or