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Winter Musings - Supporting Immunity & Wellbeing




Beautiful, cold, crisp winter is here in all of its stillness and introspection. At this moment we find ourselves deep in the darkness of the winter season, the days are short and cold with patches of warming sunlight, that if they are able to be caught just for a longer moment, bring a warming depth to the body and spirit. Winter finds us in a place of deep introspection with the self, a time to draw deeply inward, to reflect on what must be allowed to fall away and decay so that it can be returned as nourishment for the Earth. It is a time to lay fallow and to be nourished by the quiet and rest. This time of the seasonal wheel is akin to the phase of menstruation, and the energy of the crone, when deep rest is called for so that the body, mind and soul can be nurtured and nourished in the silence. Winter is also a time of communing with the creative muse, to walk in the void of creation and to dream into what we want to bring into the next cycle. Within the silence, deep within the Earth, the preparations for the next season begin. Now is the time to plant the seeds of potential into the rich, dark soil for nurturing when the light returns in early Spring. So I ask, what are you being called to create in the next season of your life? What seeds can be planted during this time of rest and quiet?

Winter Wellness


Sunlight

The cold weather, short days and long nights can often mean less time spent outdoors and so fewer hours of sunlight exposure during the winter months. One vital reason for making sure you get outside during winter is to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is essential for healthy immune function and levels commonly reduce during winter due to a lack of sunlight exposure to the skin. A lack of vitamin D is correlated with depression and seasonal affective disorder so highlighting the importance of getting out into the sunshine. Another reason to get out there is that early morning sunlight is responsible for the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm, which governs our sleep – wake cycles through the release of cortisol and melatonin. A lack of sunlight during the colder months can reduce the amount of melatonin released in the evening making it more difficult to sleep, and further adding to lower moods and poor mental health. So try to aim for 15 – 20 minutes of direct sunlight exposure within 30 minutes of waking for optimal circadian rhythm function and healthy vitamin D levels.




Nutrients to Support Immunity


During the winter months it is important to ensure adequate intake of the nutrients that will support and nurture your immune system, so that it has the resources it needs to fight viral and bacterial infections with ease.


Vitamin C


Vitamin C is one of my favourites during the colder months and is essential as a cofactor for enzymes and immune cells that defend against viruses. Fruits and veggies are the best source of vitamin C and some of the best vitamin C rich foods that you can include in your diet are citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, parsley, kale, papaya, red and yellow capsicums, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts and Kakadu Plum. Kakadu Plum is one of the highest food sources of vitamin C with 1 teaspoon boasting 226mg of vitamin C and the powdered form can easily be added to your morning smoothie or muesli for that extra winter boost. Alternatively take 1000 - 2000mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids daily as a tablet or powdered supplement.



Zinc


Zinc plays a critical role in immune function and is an essential cofactor for the enzymes within immune cells that are responsible for fighting and clearing viruses within the cells. It is also very common to be deficient in this nutrient due to poor soil quality and degradation. Some food sources of zinc to include in your diet are meats, shellfish especially oysters, legumes, seeds especially hemp, pumpkin and sesame seeds and nuts especially cashew and pine nuts. A supplement with 25 - 30mg zinc daily could also be useful as prevention during the colder months.


Vitamin D


Vitamin D is a key immune supporting nutrient due to its role as a regulator of hormonal and immune cell function, and deficiency can significantly increase susceptibility to viral infections. Although sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, putting your mushrooms with the gills facing upwards in the sun for 30 minutes prior to eating them, can actually increase their vitamin D content substantially! Depending on serum levels, taking 1000 - 2000iu vitamin D as a a supplement can be supportive during winter.

 

A Herbal Steam for Stuffy Noses


When your head is bursting and your nose is stuffed full, this herbal steam can provide some relief. A bowl of hot, but not boiling water A towel to put over your head 2 - 3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil A few sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 drop thyme essential oil A teaspoonful of dried lavender, or 1- 2 drops of lavender essential oil Pour a bowl full of water hot enough to be steamy, but not quite boiling. Add the above ingredients. Make sure that the steam has cooled slightly and is not hot enough to burn before putting the tea towel over your head and the bowl. Close your eyes and breathe the steam until no longer steaming, letting the decongestant, antimicrobial herbs work their magic.



Wishing you a beautiful and cosy weekend,

Kerri x

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