We’re delighted to welcome Mandy Pitcher to the TW family as our holistic wellbeing expert; this month Mandy tells us how we can help support our immunity during the winter months.
As winter draws closer so does the common cold, other viruses and of course Covid. If you have had Covid recently your immunity will be protected for some time. However, for those that haven’t, it’s especially important to ensure you support your immune system – if you do catch one of the winter bugs, it will certainly help you to recover faster.
We all know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps boost our immune systems; eating healthy foods, keeping our bodies hydrated, ensuring we get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and taking daily exercise – all of this contributes to keeping our minds and bodies healthy.
Vitamin C is a nutrient we get through our diets – it is not made within the body. However, we need to eat a lot of oranges, broccoli, peppers and berries in order to achieve our daily recommended intake and this is why many take an additional supplement.
Vitamin D is found in eggs and oily fish but most of our Vitamin D comes from sunlight in the summer months from UVB rays. The NHS recommends we supplement with a minimum of 400iu per day in the winter months when days are shorter meaning a reduction in sunlight. A lack of vitamin D means our immune systems are more vulnerable to infection.
Zinc plays a critical part in immune function and is often recommended for the common cold. Your body cannot produce it naturally or store it and deficiency may compromise and impair our immune systems. Many plant and animal-based products deliver high levels of zinc so we are able to achieve the recommended amounts through food.
However, if you’re under the weather it may be advisable to supplement with zinc in the form of a multivitamin or single zinc supplement.
Good immunity is directly related to mental wellbeing and this is where my role as a Clinical Aromatherapist comes in. Essential oils can offer both holistic and physiological benefits. Many describe them as ‘nature’s medicine’ and they can decrease the acuteness of various symptoms. Aromatherapy can be your first line of defence during the flu season, in particular the following essential oils:
• Lemon essential oil: helps boost the body’s immune system and stimulates the production of white blood cells increasing your ability to fight off illnesses. An antiviral oil.
• Eucalyptus essential oil: the moment you inhale this wonderful oil you can feel your airways clearing. It is antiviral, a natural decongestant and stimulating to the immune system. There are hundreds of varieties but my favourite is Eucalyptus Radiata, which is safe to use with children.
• Lavender essential oil: helps induce a good night’s sleep therefore encouraging your body to restore itself. Stress and lack of sleep are both contributing factors for lowered immunity. Be sure to purchase True Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia); some lavenders can be dangerous and have high levels of camphor, which can be harmful if you suffer from epilepsy.
• Clove Bud essential oil: a powerful antiseptic. It has strong antimicrobial properties, is antiviral and antibacterial too. It must be used with caution in lower dilutions but is one very powerful immunity oil.
• Rosemary essential oil: often used to fight off respiratory illnesses. It can stimulate the glands in the respiratory system and is an immunostimulant, which means it can help protect the body by fighting off germs. Essential oils can be inhaled using a diffuser or aroma inhaler, and can be applied during massage.
It cannot be claimed that essential oils are a cure for serious illnesses nor can they cure Covid-19 but they can be very useful for people who have milder symptoms of Covid, respiratory illnesses, coughs and colds.
Please seek professional advice before using essential oils and with pregnancy and the elderly. Never ingest essential oils.
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