Practitioners

How well can your immune system fight off winter bugs?

Even if you’re having your morning superfood juice after your daily yoga, you’re likely to pick up a winter bug. One or two are not a cause for concern but when you don’t feel like you’re ever getting better and you’re lurching from one infection to another, it becomes problematic.

Natalie discusses some of the factors that can impact your immune system and ways you can fight off the bugs this winter.

illness and blood sugars

Balance those blood sugars to fight off infections

When people hear ‘blood sugars’ they often think type 2 diabetes and that’s not wrong. Yet we all have sugar in our blood – we need it to stay alive – we just don’t want too much. Even without having a diagnosis of diabetes, it’s important to manage your blood sugars as they can impact how your immune system responds to infection.

White blood cells (WBCs) are the key players in our immune system that help to fight off infection from viruses and bacteria – hello coughs, stuffy noses, and chest infections. If you’re riding on the sugar, caffeine or soft drink ‘pick me up’ to get you through the day you could be experiencing high blood sugars (hyperglycaemia) which has been shown to affect the production of these white blood cells. This has a knock-on effect on how quickly you bounce back when you pick up a bug. 

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition where you become less sensitive to the hormone insulin and store more sugar in the blood than the body wants (you are too sugary). In addition to affecting how well your immune system fights infections, blood sugars tend to rise as a natural occurrence of being unwell. Understanding how to manage blood sugars better and even reverse type 2 diabetes is key and why we’re so passionate about helping people to do so. In the meantime, so is supporting your immune system in other ways so keep scrolling for tips. 

Your immune system is in your gut

Your immune system is made up of your innate immunity, what you are born with, and your adaptive/acquired immunity which you develop throughout your life.

immune system in the gut

Your innate immunity includes the external barriers of the body such as skin, hairs in your nose, and the mucous membrane of the throat and gut which can protect us from certain bacteria.

 

A normal healthy digestive system allows vitamins, minerals, and digested foods to flow through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream. The walls act as a barrier to prevent anything from entering the bloodstream that should stay in the gut.

 

When there is damage to the lining of the intestines it can mean there is gut permeability (aka leaky gut). This allows larger particles, such as undigested/partially digested foods, and bacteria, to enter the bloodstream. 

 

The immune system wouldn’t expect to come into contact with undigested food or bacteria that’s normally in the gut and sees them as ‘foreign invaders’. This leads to inflammation, irritation, sensitivity to foods and an allergic-like reactions (histamine symptoms anyone?). 

Common causes of gut permeability:

  • High sugar diet
  • Ultra-processed food
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Overgrowths including Candida or SIBO (relevant blog)
  • Chemotherapy treatment
  • Overuse of certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) , pain killers and antibiotics

5 tips to improve your fight against winter bugs today

Prioritise your protein intake

The body uses protein for almost everything, including your immune system antibodies and healing the gut lining. But it is so easy to undereat protein! So start prioritising a palm-size portion of protein in each meal – including breakfast.

  • Eggs, fish, seafood, meat
  • Lentils, chickpeas, all the beans
  • Tofu, tempeh, edamame beans

Boost your intake of vitamin C

Vitamin C is used in abundance by the immune system – and adrenals if you’re stressed – so make sure it’s in your meals in abundance too!

  • Citrus fruits – lemon, lime, orange
  • Peppers and tomatoes
  • Kiwis (plus the skin for a great fibre boost too)
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Strawberries (when they are in season)
vitamin c

Keep moving

It can be tempting to stop moving when the mornings are dark and dreary and the sun goes down so early. Yet daily movement actually helps support your body’s defense and response to infections (including C-v-d). 

Find a workout you enjoy; power walking, swimming, strength training, running, yoga, pilates, or trampolining.

Check your Vitamin D levels

We know the NHS tells us to supplement across the winter months because we can’t get vitamin D from the sun. Do you know how to choose the right supplement and dose for your needs? The recommended dose for everyone is 400IU, but this is rarely accurate because since when has everyone needed the same of anything?

That’s why we created the quick and easy Vitamin D Check.

Know your levels now and get a recommended supplement dose from us to see you through winter with confidence. 

You’ll receive an NHS-approved test kit in the post and an invitation to our client system so you can send us your results and we can send you a personalised recommendation. We’ll also send you the supplement with 10% off to help. 

Lots of people have taken the Vitamin D Check already, and no one had levels ready for the winter.

What will yours be?