Optimising your diet to support immunity in the winter months with Rhiannon Lambert
In our latest expert series, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert explains how best to optimise our diets to help support immunity in the winter months.
What you need to know about immunity
Rhiannon tells us, how, in the winter months its harder to stay healthy, and as the weather gets darker, we want to be supporting our immune system and eating well. There are lots of ways that she says we can do this.
Vitamins and supplements for the winter months
The first key nutrient that Rhiannon says we should focus on is vitamin D. She says perhaps it’s a bit misunderstood, but it plays a very important role in supporting our immune system. The advice in the UK, at the moment, is to take a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms, and you’ll see that written as either UG or MCG. From September to April, when we get darker, colder days, taking a supplement, Rhiannon says, is a way to stay healthy.
Rhiannon also says to consider iron. Iron can be found in plant foods like lentils, chickpeas, beans, pulses, and in red meat. Some people may always be deficient in iron and need to take a supplement. Iron can help keep your energy levels high throughout the winter months. If it's something you're concerned about Rhiannon says you should go and speak to your GP.
Don't forget about hydration
Rhiannon says that hydration is a forgotten about area of nutrition. Our skin lacks moisture in the winter months; drinking enough water will help our skin as well as concentration and mood.
Other key nutrients
One of the other key nutrients we can focus on is Zinc. Zinc can be found in animal sources and even in nuts and seeds. Also, Selenium can play a role in supporting our overall immune system. Rhiannon recommends having 2 Brazil nuts a day, they can give you your recommended amount of Selenium.
Finally, vitamin C. Rhiannon says you’ve probably all heard that vitamin C is crucial for immune support, and she says it’s important we don’t confuse boosting the immune system with supporting it. You’re likely to be getting enough vitamin C from your diet if you eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg daily.
Rhiannon's top tips to feel great
LloydsPharmacy can help you with our range of supplements like vitamin D, as well as stocking things like herbal teas. Rhiannon tells us that tea and coffee count toward our daily intake of water and herbal teas are a great way to keep you hydrated as well as cutting down on caffeine, which can affect sleep. In the winter months you need as much sleep as possible and you need to be hydrated. LloydsPharmacy also sell Manuka honey, which Rhiannon says is an underrated product. There is a lot of research which is up and coming and even the NHS has recommended using Manuka honey when you’re feeling a bit run down but she does warn that it could also be placebo.