Winter immune-boosting hacks

As the temperature drops and days grow shorter, our immune systems face increased challenges. With colds and flu making the rounds, and the added stress of shorter days, it’s crucial to bolster our defences.

Here’s a holistic guide to staying healthy, happy and cosy this winter: from gut health and wholefoods to superfood skincare and emotional well-being.

Take care of your gut health: The foundation of immunity

Your gut is home to trillions of microbes that play a vital role in your overall health, especially your immune system. To keep your gut flora balanced, consume:

  • Probiotics and fermented foods – Incorporate foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi into your diet. These are rich in probiotics that support healthy digestion and bolster immune function. You can also take a probiotic supplement if those foods don’t ‘float your boat’. 
  • Prebiotic-rich foods – Foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and bananas feed the good bacteria in your gut, enhancing their effectiveness. Eat them every day to stay gut-balanced and healthy. 
  • Fibre – Whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are essential for maintaining a healthy gut lining and ensuring smooth digestive processes. Eat all sorts of varieties. Try to include the rainbow of colours in your wholefoods into your daily diet. 

Eat wholefoods – nutrient powerhouses

Winter is the perfect time to nourish your body with nutrient-dense wholefoods:

  • Seasonal vegetables – Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are also packed with immune-boosting nutrients.
  • Citrus fruits – Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are loaded with vitamin C, a crucial nutrient for immune function.
  • Nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E, which support immune health. Enjoy these in winter, as they will be your best allies. 
  • Herbs and spices – Turmeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon have powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Add them generously to your meals and hot drinks. 

Superfood skincare: Nourishing from the outside in

Transdermal absorption skincare can be an effective way to deliver nutrients to the body, particularly in winter when the skin needs extra care.

Here are four superfoods that are beneficial for immune boosting through transdermal absorption:

1. Baobab – Baobab is exceptionally high in vitamin C, which is crucial for the immune system. It helps in the production of collagen, promoting skin elasticity and repair, which is particularly beneficial in the dry winter months. It contains a high level of antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals and environmental stressors, reducing inflammation and enhancing overall skin health. Baobab oil is deeply hydrating, making it perfect for dry winter skin. It helps in maintaining the skin barrier function, preventing moisture loss and protecting against harsh weather conditions.

2. Marula – Marula oil is rich in omega-9 fatty acids that help lock in moisture and maintain skin hydration. This is essential for preventing the skin from becoming dry and flaky in winter. It has antimicrobial properties that can help prevent infections and support skin health, contributing to a stronger overall immune response.The anti-inflammatory properties of marula oil soothe irritated and inflamed skin, which can be common in harsh winter conditions.

3. Shea Butter – Shea butter is packed with vitamins A and E, which are essential for skin health. These vitamins have antioxidant properties that help protect the skin and boost the immune system. It is known for its intensive moisturising capabilities, providing a protective barrier on the skin that helps to prevent dryness and chapping caused by cold weather. Shea butter supports skin healing and regeneration, making it excellent for repairing winter-damaged skin and maintaining overall skin integrity.

4. Cacao – Cacao is rich in flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant properties. These compounds help protect the skin from oxidative stress, and boost skin repair and rejuvenation. Cacao contains magnesium, which can help reduce stress and improve overall skin health, indirectly supporting immune function by reducing stress-induced immune suppression. Cacao butter, derived from cacao, is an excellent moisturiser that provides a protective barrier for the skin, helping maintain hydration and repair the skin barrier during winter.

Incorporating these superfoods into transdermal skincare products can help boost the immune system by providing essential nutrients and protecting the skin from the harsh effects of winter.

Emotional upliftment: Mind over matter – If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter 

Winter can sometimes bring a sense of melancholy due to shorter days and less sunlight. Here’s how to keep your spirits high:

  • Light therapy – Light therapy lamps can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder by mimicking natural sunlight.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Even a brisk walk can make a significant difference.
  • Mindfulness and meditation – Practices like yoga, meditation and deep-breathing exercises can reduce stress and enhance emotional well-being.
  • Stay connected – Regular social interactions, whether through virtual meetups or safe in-person gatherings, can combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Staying cosy and warm

Keeping warm is essential for comfort and health during winter. Here are some tips to stay snug:

  • Layer up – Wear multiple layers to trap heat. Opt for natural fabrics like wool, which retain warmth better than synthetics.
  • Warm beverages – Hot drinks like herbal teas, hot chocolate and mulled cider can warm you from the inside out.
  • Home comforts – Use blankets, hot water bottles and heated pads to keep cosy. Ensure your home is well-insulated to maintain a stable indoor temperature.
  • Hygge: Embrace the Danish concept of hygge, which involves creating a warm, inviting atmosphere with soft lighting, comforting food and a cosy environment.

Winter doesn’t have to be a season of discomfort and illness. By focusing on gut health, nourishing your body with wholefoods, adopting natural skincare routines, uplifting your emotional well-being and staying warm, you can thrive during the colder months. Embrace these winter wellness hacks to stay healthy, happy and cosy all season long.

Nicole Sherwin

Founder: Eco Diva Natural

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