We are just over halfway through winter in South Africa and I think we can all agree that this has been one of the coldest winters in the last few years. It’s easy to hibernate, veg out on the couch and forget about our optimal health, especially in August. Trust me, we’ve all been there. But it’s not too late to remember and implement a few basic steps to help ensure you stay happy and healthy during the rest of winter.

Your immune system is quite magical

Generally your immune system does a fantastic job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. However, even the most robust immune system can buckle when a flu or cold breaks through, sets in and makes you sick. You can help prevent this by improving your diet and making a few basic lifestyle changes.

Here are a few simple guidelines to keep you on track

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.

Ensure you maintain a healthy weight.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

Wash your hands often, especially when handling raw meat.

Reduce your stress levels. Stress wreaks havoc on your immune system.

Alcohol should be avoided. If you consume it, do so in moderation.

Smoking is a big no-no. If you haven’t quit yet, it’s never too late.

Exercise regularly.

What role does your diet play?

Your immune system is very closely linked to your stomach. This means that regular, healthy nourishment is key. Scientists have established that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Micronutrient deficiencies, like deficiencies in iron, copper, zinc, selenium, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E also play a role in weakened immune systems. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you don’t get enough micronutrients. This is where vitamin and mineral supplements can help strengthen your system.

Registered Dietitians can help you find balance and harmony

The immune system is not a single entity, hence the word ‘system’. It is a complex network that needs balance between all the components that work together to help guard your body against infections.

Each person’s body is different and has different nutritional requirements. Registered Dietitians have the training and expertise to identify your diet’s needs and make recommendations.

All the dietitians at Tracy Ugarchund & Associates are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HSPCA), so you know you are in good hands. You can contact Tracy on 082 657 0700 or via email at tracydiet1@gmail.com. To find out more go to www.tracyugarchund.co.za