Didn’t buy in to the “2-For-1” Multi-Vitamin promo at your local pharmacy?

Fear not friends, because we’ve got you covered! Stop hoarding heaps of empty pill bottles in your medicine cabinet and start understanding which vitamins and supplements are right for you.

Information about our "recommended nutritional intake" practically screams at us from shop shelves and billboard ads nowadays, but it’s important to remember that the evidence base for the association between nutrients, like Vitamin C for example, and immunity is largely based on supplements rather than whole foods.

In nature, biological constituents are coordinated, so eating a varied diet including a range of nutrient-rich plant foods is more likely to have a positive impact on your personal overall immune function by providing a range of compounds that act together in synergy, which then enhance the benefits of Vitamin C.

Whether Vitamin C supplements can reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms have been hotly contested.

By virtue of its potent anti-oxidant function, Vitamin C helps to protect cells from oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are generated by immune cells to destroy pathogens. It is also known to play an important role in the formation and function of leukocytes (white blood cells) and to support the production of cytokines, (cell-signalling molecules which help to regulate the immune system). Studies examining doses of 0.2g/day or more of Vitamin C with healthy adults found that regular ingestion is probably not going to stop you catching the common cold.

It is thought however that Vitamin C may be beneficial because of its anti-histamine effect, which is thought to help alleviate some of those nasty respiratory symptoms associated with the common cold and influenza.

So keep bugs at bay during the colder months by taking precaution – here are tips and tricks on what you need to do and consume to help keep your immune system in tip top shape and start feeling healthy, happy and strong – so long Winter cold!

Top 5 Tips To Boost Your Immune System, FAST!

1. Love Your Gut

Because it loves you too… It’s estimated that between 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in the digestive system, so any first signs of bacteria or virus development is met with an army-like defence line (go gut!).

Gastrointestinal immune cells work together to protect the digestive tract, letting in only the good bacteria that are beneficial for your immune system. Foods like natural yoghurt and fermented vegetables are great sources of good bacteria that can be introduced easily in your meals and help maintain an optimal balance of gut flora.

Helpful Heroes: Onions, artichokes, leeks.

2. Let The Sun Shine In

The “Sunshine Vitamin” plays an integral role in helping you look and feel your best inside and out.

Even though Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin at all and functions more as a hormone within the body, it is necessary to make sure you are getting enough to maintain a healthy immune system. Clinical research has suggested that there may be a relationship between the presence of Vitamin D in the body and lowering your susceptibility of catching the flu, as well as duration of infection.

So unless you live in the Bahamas (and are wearing at least SPF 30), you need to consider taking a good quality supplement to counteract the lack of sunshine in the colder months.

Helpful Heroes: Salmon, egg yolk, mushrooms.

3. Go Nuts

Not only are essential vitamins important for a healthy immune system, the minerals found in certain foods are important too. Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are some of the nutritious snacks and meal toppings that are packed full of iron and zinc. Many plant-based compounds, seeds and nuts help boost your immune system fast, like the phytonutrient “allicin” found in garlic, which also adds delicious flavour to your meals!

Helpful Heroes: Cinnamon, ginger, thyme.

4. Exercise

Studies have shown that regular and moderate exercise helps fend off illnesses – so put on your trainers and head to the park or take up a dance at your local gym to start reaping the benefits of getting your sweat on!

Helpful Heroes: Bananas, almonds, oatmeal.

5. Chill Out

Sleep deprived? Whatever your stress levels, the hormones released in your body during long periods of sleepless nights can actually fight your immune system, making you more susceptible to catching viruses and infections.

Finding quick and simple ways to reduce your stress levels, like meditation (Headspace is a good app for beginners!) or yoga, can make a big difference to your hormonal balance and help you catch more Zs.

Helpful Heroes: Honey, cherries, chamomile.

Read next: Top Tips For Beating The Bloat.

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