Head into a healthy autumn, time to check out your wellness regime

October 1, 2023

The NHS recommends that everyone takes a vitamin D supplement from October to March as we see too little sunlight and keep our skin too covered up to manufacture our own.

As the autumn arrives and the clocks change, even a a warm sunny day isn’t around for long. It’s a good time to review your eating habits and supplements regime to see how you can best prepare for the next couple of seasons.

Firstly, we are seeing far less daylight than in the summer and of course less sunshine. One big impact this can have is that the opportunity for the body to manufacture its own vitamin D from sunlight on the skin, is now not possible until the spring. Vitamin D plays a role in so many functions in the body. The most well known are healthy teeth and bones, but vitamin D also plays a role in the immune system and possibly even our moods. So look out for food sources of vitamin D such as dairy products, eggs, oily fish and some fortified foods. The NHS recommend that from October to March, everyone takes a vitamin D supplement, especially if your diet isn’t rich in the foods containing the vitamin. Look for a supplement containing D3 which is the closest in form to that produced by the body.

All of a sudden, we can be surrounded by people with colds and sniffles. Spending more time indoors in closer proximity to others, central heating drying out the air and our mucous membranes and just one or two people sneezing or coughing in confined spaces such as busses and trains, can be enough to start spreading the bugs.

A change in seasons is a good time to review your diet, habits and supplements and make sure you are set for the next few months.

Simple measures can help us look after ourselves and be less susceptible to winter bugs. Simple tips include washing your hands frequently, even before the days of lockdowns and pandemics, hand washing was and still is one of the best ways to help keep free of the common cold. Viruses such as the common cold virus is just as likely to be transmitted by touching a door handle or handling items that have been touched by someone with a cold and then touching your face.

Soap and hot water is just as effective and hand sanitisers which may dry your skin out. Try and get into the habit od washing your hands every time you have used public transport, come in from shopping or spent some time with other people.

As we replace the air con for heating, it might feel cosy, but it can dry your skin and mucous membranes out, especially the lining of the nose. Our nasal passage is one of the fist lines of defence when it comes to protecting us from winter health issues. Try not to have the heating too high and ensure an intake of nutrients such as vitamin A or Beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body, to help maintain healthy mucous membranes.

Also keeping hydrated is important too, drinking water or hot drinks, try and vary what you have through the day. Herbal teas can be great if you are feeling under the weather, Rosehip and hibiscus teas can perk you up, ginger and lemon teas can be soothing and warming, especially if you add a spoonful of honey to help soothe an irritated throat.

Try not to over do the caffeine containing drinks as they can dehydrate they body and also aggravate your sleeping if you have too many. Look for some of the more bold flavoured herbal teas that contain cinnamon or liquorice if you want something with a bit more of a stronger taste to help replace coffee.

Soups can be an economical, healthy and tasty way to ensure you keep lots of nutrients in your cooking.

It’s a good time to consider the state of your immune system, even if you are feeling well now, a healthy immune system can help you avoid winter ailments. Increase your fresh fruit intake to get more vitamin C, bioflavonoids and other antioxidant nutrients. If you feel you aren’t eating enough brightly colourerd fruits, you can look at taking supplements.

A multivitamin and mineral tablet is a great way of getting something of everything, if you are not used to taking supplements, it is a good place to start. Single nutrients that contribute to a healthy immune system include vitamins C and D and the mineral zinc. These are all easily available in supplement form to add to your healthy diet.

One way of aiming to get as many nutrients as possible from your food is to make soups, there are so many varieties, thin, thick, chunky, even fruit based or cold soups. The advantage is that you are cooking things such as vegetables but not throwing the cooking water away so keeping the nutrients in the dish. They can be economical and a great way of using up left overs or tired veg in the fridge.

A supplement that is new to many is Lactoferrin, gaining popularity amongst many users this nutrient is an iron-binding glycoprotein found in human and bovine milk, it is also found in tears and saliva. Not only does it help with iron absorption if you are deficient, it also plays a role in immune and inflammatory responses. It can also contain naturally present antioxidants. A supplement is usually from a dairy source, but look for a lactose free version if this is an issue for you.

If your skin seems to suffer in the colder weather, think about taking nutrients that support collagen and healthy skin. Vitamin C is important for normal collagen production and hyaluronic acid is nutrient that helps keep the skin moisturised. If you ten to get a breakout of cold sores, think about adding the amino acid lysine too. (And cut down on arginine rich foods including chocolate, nuts and green peppers.)

Spending even a short time outside every day can benefit your mental and physical health. Fresh air and daylight can give you a break and a boost.

A little time and planning can help set you up for the start of the new season and adjust to changes in temperature and light. Aim to boost up your diet with healthy foods and try to get outside for at least half an hour a day. Fresh air, movement and daylight can do wonders for our mental and physical health. Get set to embrace crisp and bright days and look after yourself to help avoid the winter bugs.

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