As we head into winter, it is more important than ever to care for your immune system and overall health. Winter is rife with nasty colds and contagious diseases, so it’s essential that you keep your immune system strong so that it can fight off any infections.
Here is a guide to the importance of healthy meals and how you can keep your mental and physical health strong all year round.
Your immune system is what protects you from germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins that make us more susceptible to colds and the flu.
The immune system relies on a person’s bloodstream and lymphatic system to deliver nutrients throughout the body to get rid of toxins that can harm the body. This means that a strong immune system generally equals better health, which is why you need to take proper care of it in order to stay strong and healthy.
While we now know the importance of a healthy immune system, it is important to understand how the immune system actually functions. The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells and proteins that defends the body against infection, whilst protecting the body’s own cells. When the body senses foreign substances called Antigens, the immune system detects these antigens and works to get rid of them.
Cleverly, the immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells known as memory cells. This means it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again before it can multiply and make you feel unwell.
Some infections, like the flu and the common cold, have to be fought many times because so many different viruses or strains of the same type of virus can cause these illnesses. Catching a cold or flu from one virus does not give you immunity against the others.
The main parts of the immune system are:
- White blood cells
- Complement system
- Lymphatic system
- Bone marrow
While vaccines play an important role in building immunity against specific diseases, choosing a healthy lifestyle is essential for your health. Here are some general tips for boosting your immune system:
Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Not only does it strengthen your immune system and physical health, but it can boost your mental health and general well-being. Exercising considerably improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight and protects against a variety of diseases.
In general, adults in England should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, according to physical activity guidelines for adults from the UK Chief Medical Officers. This is optimal for the immune-boosting benefits of exercise and helps to strengthen your metabolic systems, leaving you feeling much healthier and happier.
Sleep is essential for virtually every system of the body. As research has delved further into the links between sleep and physical health, it has become increasingly clear that sleep and the immune system are closely connected. Sleep provides essential support to the immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defence that features strong innate and adaptive immunity, efficient response to vaccines, and less severe allergic reactions.
Consistent sleep has been proven to strengthen the immune system, allowing for balanced and effective immune function. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can throw off the immune system and increase illness. Here are some simple tips to improve sleep and boost your immune system:
- Stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before bed - the blue light emitted from most screens can keep you up at night and impact your sleep
- Limit daytime naps
- Create a restful environment - keep your room cool, dark and quiet
Smoking can make the body less successful at fighting diseases and increases the risk of immune system problems, including rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, excessive alcohol use can weaken the immune system. Alcohol suppresses the immune system which means the body may take longer to recognise and respond to a developing infection. This can make infection symptoms last longer and become more intense than they would otherwise.
To improve your immune system and reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, it’s generally recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more.
A healthy, balanced diet is important for supporting your immune system. You need sufficient energy and nutrients for the immune system to function properly, and poor nutrition can compromise it. A balanced diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk. It also means limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Keep reading for the best foods to boost immunity, including some options from the team here at Pow Food, and how you can easily incorporate them into your daily life.
Boosting your immune system is easy when you know what foods are great for your health. Try to use these powerful immune system boosters in your everyday diet for a strong and healthy immune system:
Citrus fruits are bursting with the vitamins you need to stay healthy. Almost all citrus fruits contain vitamin C which increases the production of white blood cells and is key for fighting infections.
Popular citrus fruits include:
For an indulgent healthy ready meal, our Vegan Vegetable and Cheeze Bake containing citrus lemon juice is designed to support your gut and improve brain functioning.
While garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world due to its instant enriching flavour, it is not as widely known for its health benefits. However, garlic is thought to slow down the hardening of arteries and potentially lower blood pressure. It contains a heavy concentration of sulphur compounds such as allicin which helps to boost your immune system.
If you are looking for a delicious meal packed with garlic and other enriching ingredients, at Pow Food, we offer an irresistible Vegan Sweet Potato Falafel ready meal.
Greek yoghurts in particular are great for stimulating your immune system to help it fight diseases. This is because it contains vitamin D which helps to regulate the immune system and boosts our body’s natural defences against diseases.
Try to get plain yoghurts rather than yoghurts that are flavoured and loaded with sugar. You can enhance the flavour yourself by adding a drizzle of honey and chopped fruit.
Choose the Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala for a delicious, nutritious ready meal containing all the dairy-free coconut yoghurt you need to fuel your immune system.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that can boost your immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of zinc and copper, which are vital nutrients for keeping the immune system running as it should. At Pow Food, we offer a Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala prepared meal which contains chickpeas, coconut milk, black rice and green beans, making it the ultimate immune-boosting meal.
If you are one of the many people who understand the value of eating well but feel like you cannot juggle your responsibilities with cooking fresh, nutritious meals every day, then our ready meals may be the best choice for you.
At Pow Food, we ensure that you get the vitamins and minerals you need to strengthen your immune system without the stress and hassle of preparing meals every day. Our ready meals are designed to support your well-being, energy and gut.
If you are looking to boost your immune system without the stress and hassle of finding and preparing the meals yourself, then look no further than Pow Food Ltd. We offer a range of services including a la carte dishes, ready meals and more.
Catering nutrition and well-being is our number one priority, which is why our meals are bursting with the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Get in touch with a member of our professional team here today for more information.