During the colder months we need vitamins and secondary plant substances if our immune system is to function effectively. And the best way to obtain these is by consuming hearty, fresh winter vegetables.
It’s no coincidence that the plants that are harvested in the winter are packed with substances that strengthen the immune system. Right at the top of the list are the most diverse varieties of cabbage and herbs.
Savoy cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts are particularly rich in vitamin C, among other good things. But potatoes, lamb’s lettuce and spinach contain very valuable nutrients, too.
As Andreas Wolff, Chef de Cuisine at the Original FX Mayr, adds: “Visit a farmers’ market in your area and revel in the abundance and diversity of freshly harvested winter veggies. Dive right in and do give something new a try”.
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Check your zinc and vitamin D levels
Zinc is one of the trace elements that the body cannot produce itself; it has to be obtained via your diet. If the body lacks the levels of zinc that it needs, this exerts a negative impact on the immune system. Among other things, this increases susceptibility to infections like the common cold, cough, sore throat, etc.
The human body produces vitamin D on its own, but only when regularly exposed to sunlight. Especially in winter, the natural production of D3 is significantly reduced and its scientifically-proven that a stable vitamin D3 household can reduce influenza infections and reduce susceptibility.
Dr Karin Hamböck, Physician at the Original FX Mayr, said: “To prevent zinc deficiency, it is a good idea to assess zinc levels by carrying out a blood test. If your zinc level is low, take 30mg of zinc every night before going to sleep and not right after meals.”
This is the ‘sunshine wellness plan’ everyone should follow to boost their Vitamin D levels as we head into winter
Drink warming teas
Teas are a real boost on cold autumn and winter days. They warm the body from the inside and provide it with extra hydration. In the winter, when the air is dry both indoors and outdoors, you need to remain adequately hydrated (ideally by consuming water or unsweetened teas) in order to be able to keep the mucous membranes supple and eliminate pathogens. So keep drinking those cups of tea through the day and take time to enjoy the variety that’s on offer.
As Dr Karin Hamböck, Physician at the Original FX Mayr, says: “To strengthen the body’s immune defence, drink teas based with caraway, cardamon, fennel or cinnamon over green tea or peppermint”.
Wrap up warm and go outside for an autumnal walk, a short hike or a leisurely run. When you are outdoors, the body produces vitamin D, a nutrient that is incredibly important for immune defences. A complete win-win.
A tip from Nikolai, exercise therapist at the original FX Mayr: “Regular exercise, 3 times a week, boosts the immune system and strengthens the muscles and the cardiovascular system.”
We’re off to take a vitamin D supplement and sip on a hot peppermint tea. Oh, and we’ll be getting the winter woolies out – because after all, outdoor exercise awaits.