Nutritionist Adrienne Benjamin explains what you can do to support your gut and, ultimately, your immune system whatever the weather
Our immune system’s job is to stop viruses and bacteria from infiltrating our bodies and making us ill.
But it’s a common belief that when the seasons change, we are more likely to become ill.
While it’s true that, throughout the year, or seasonally, our bodies undergo immune pattern changes, they don’t range from ‘weak’ to ‘strong’. They just fluctuate depending on what our body needs at that particular time.
Gut bacteria also change seasonally – depending on what we are eating, the environment we are spending time in and our stress levels, among other things.
The billions of bacteria which make up our gut microbiome, combined with the bacteria of the gastro-intestinal tract, are estimated to account for 70% of our immune system. Naturally, these bacterial changes can impact our susceptibility to illness.
Other factors affecting our chances of being susceptible to seasonal infections include exposure to allergens and current and past infections.
As a result, there is a complex array of interactions which occur in our bodies at any one time – determining how well we may be able to ‘fight off’ seasonal flu, or how likely we are to develop symptoms of arthritis.
Here are Adrienne Benjamin’s top tips for year-round good health and immunity:
Support good bacteria in the gut
Consume kefir and probiotic yoghurt regularly and take a friendly bacteria supplement such as ProVen Probiotics Four Pillars of Nutrition.
The benefits of exposure to sunlight have been well documented – both in terms of immunity and mental health. Sunlight is the most effective, traditional way of increasing your vitamin D levels to boost immune response.
Lack of sunlight in Winter has also been linked to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and other forms of depression.
Take time to relax
As well as a good night’s sleep, good old R&R (rest and relaxation) works wonders to help us recuperate mentally and physically.
Having regular ‘downtime’ supports all bodily systems and is also widely considered to support our immune system.