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Strengthening Your Immune System Against Colds & Flu This Winter

As we enter the winter months, the prevalence of colds and flu begins to spike. This week I want to take you through evidence-based strategies to bolster your immune system and enhance your body’s defences against these common illnesses.

The Science of the Immune System

The immune system is a complex network that defends your body against infection. To function optimally, it requires balance and harmony, influenced by a variety of lifestyle factors.

Nutrition: Your Immune System's Fuel

A nutrient-rich diet is key for a robust immune response. Here are some scientifically backed nutrients to include:

  • Vitamin C: Known for its immune-enhancing effects, vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells, vital for fighting infections. Research in the Nutrients journal suggests that vitamin C supplementation can prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections (Carr, A.C., & Maggini, S., 2017).

  • Vitamin D: Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. Studies in the British Medical Journal highlight that vitamin D supplementation can help prevent acute respiratory tract infections (Martineau, A.R., et al., 2017).

  • Zinc: Essential for immune cell function and cell signaling, zinc can reduce the length of cold symptoms when taken within 24 hours of onset. A systematic review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews supports zinc’s role in reducing the duration of common colds (Singh, M., & Das, R.R., 2013).

  • Probiotics: These support gut health, crucial for immune functioning. A review published in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology suggests that probiotics can enhance immune responses and might help in the prevention of the common cold (Vighi, G., et al., 2008). Click here to read a great article about how to improve your gut health and gut microbiome.

Physical Activity

Moderate exercise boosts overall circulation, making it easier for immune cells to move throughout your body. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that regular walking may reduce the risk of respiratory infections (Nieman, D.C., 2003).

Adequate Sleep

Sleep and immune function are closely related. Poor sleep is linked to reduced immune function. Research in Sleep Journal shows that people who sleep fewer than 5 hours per night may have a higher susceptibility to colds (Prather, A.A., et al., 2015). To find out more about getting a great night's sleep, click here to read a previous blog.

Stress Management

Stress negatively impacts immune function. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, chronic stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes, increasing vulnerability to viruses (Cohen, S., et al., 2012). Click here for some relaxation techniques and stress management tips.


Hydration doesn’t directly protect from viruses but supports overall health. Dehydration can hinder your body’s ability to fight off infections. Research from NIH suggests that optimal hydration for most adults is between 2-3 litres of water per day. That’s 9-15 standard cups of water! That’s probably more than you thought. And, no, coffee, tea or beer do not count.


While food sources are ideal for nutrient absorption, supplements can be beneficial. The nutrients listed above can be considered during the winter months to support immune function, as backed by clinical evidence.


Implementing these evidence-based strategies can help prepare your immune system for winter challenges. Remember, maintaining your immune system involves a holistic approach combining diet, physical activity, sleep, and stress management.

Stay healthy and proactive about your health this winter!



Dr Mark has a special interest in helping recreational athletes of all ages perform better and prevent injury. Correct breathing and postural alignment are critical for top performance and injury prevention and is an integral part of “The Over 40 Athlete System” that Mark has developed.

Dr Julie has a special interest in helping mothers and “mothers to be”. Her Post Graduate qualifications in Paediatric Chiropractic and as an ex-midwife give her a unique ability to help pregnant women, new mums and their young children.

Yours in Health,

Dr's Mark & Julie


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