immune system

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and yet the time when we start dropping like flies.

Whether it’s because of the change in season, the darker days or the start of the party season, it’s not surprising that we tend to pick up more coughs, colds and infections as winter commences.

Despite the festivities and cosy nights, feeling under the weather is not something anyone looks forward to and can have a big impact on your everyday life.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can avoid being struck down by unwelcoming winter illnesses, particularly if you focus on boosting your immune system and fighting off the bugs. We caught up with Ruth Tongue, expert nutritionist at FOGA (, who offers her expert advice on how to boost your immune system this winter.

 Although easier said than done, there are many ways to reduce the impact that stress has on the body (and subsequently on your immune systems). For example, taking time to simply focus on your breathing each day has been shown to reduce the stress response in the body. So, when it comes to thinking about physical stress – are you pounding the pavements and constantly taking part in high intensity exercise classes? If so, you could be putting stress on your immune system, which can make you more susceptible to common winter ailments. To combat this, opt for lower intensity exercise – walking is one of the best examples. And don’t forget those rest days!

Give Yourself A Ginger And Turmeric Booster:

Ginger and turmeric are great antioxidants which have been used for thousands of years to treat infections, inflammation and boost immunity. To maximise absorption of the active ingredients in turmeric, it’s best to add a little black pepper.

Don’t Ditch The Carbs:

It can be tempting at this time of year, especially when thinking about getting Christmas party ready, to skip the carbs but by doing so, you’ll put yourself at risk of cutting out immunity-boosting nutrients like selenium, zinc, iron and the B vitamins. Instead of cutting out carbohydrates completely, switch to nutrient-rich slow-releasing carbs like sweet potatoes, oats, rye and quinoa and aim for a palmful at every meal. You could try blending a FOGA Plantshake, which are instant whole-plant smoothies made from freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, with oats and almond milk for the perfect morning snack or post workout recovery shake (RRP from £2.40 and available to buy from

Increase your omegas:

We often associate omega 3 fatty acids with healthy hair, skin and brain health but they’re also essential for keeping your immune system at its peak. During this time of year, I would recommend increasing your intake to at least 3 portions of oily fish each week or adding a tablespoon of chia or flaxseed to your breakfast for a quick and easy booster.

Get Some zzz’s:

With constant late nights and early mornings, sleep is non-negotiable in the winter if you want to stay healthy  and keep your immune system in tip-top condition — in fact it’s been shown that people who have less sleep, or even poorer quality sleep are more likely to get sick when exposed to viruses. If you’re struggling to get your 8 hours, try to increase the magnesium-rich foods in your diet.

Pumpkin seeds, bananas, avocado and dark chocolate (what better excuse?!) are all good sources. Also, I would recommend thinking about your sleep routine – are you allowing yourself enough time to unwind before hitting the sack? Are you eating your last meal too close to bedtime? Exercising late at night will also increase the levels of adrenaline in your body, making it much harder to unwind.

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