The darker months of winter are a challenge to many of us when it comes to staying well with less daylight and harsher weather bringing what can seem like a maelstrom of colds and flus, coughs, sneezes and sore throats. Consequently in Health Stores we spend these months advising our customers just how not to succumb to winter ailments and here are our top tips.

Eat seasonally and look for a rainbow of coloured vegetables in salads, soups and stews, wholegrains for sustained energy and good quality protein. Fermented foods and drinks can also do wonders for your wellbeing. Try sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kefir, live yoghurt, miso and tempeh. You can discover some great tastes as well as doing yourself a lot of good.

Make sure your nutritional status is up to par with a good multivitamin. This is especially important if your diet is sometimes a little hit and miss. Look for a brand with extras like green foods and digestive enzymes. These often come in powder or liquid form.

Take a good probiotic blend. One way of optimizing this is a little trick we often recommend. Choose two or three multi strain probiotics (all with different bacteria) and take them on consecutive days. This is one way of ensuring you get the very broadest spectrum of good bacteria with optimum benefits for digestion, immunity and, according to the latest research, even mental well being.

Consider additional supplements of the nutrients which specifically support immunity. These include vitamins C, D and E, Selenium and Zinc.

Use herbals like ginger and cayenne for poor winter circulation, echinacea and astragalus to boost immunity and garlic and elderberry to help fight off the bugs.

Try medicinal mushrooms. Research is showing them to be powerhouses when it comes to boosting immunity or regulating an immune system that’s out of sync. Turkey tail, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Chaga and Maitake have all been shown to have powerful benefits. They’re easy to use either in capsule or powder form.

Deal with stress to avoid it’s bad effects on immunity as well as on several other body systems. Gentle exercise, Mindfullness and Meditation as well as therapies like Yoga and Tai Chi are all invaluable.

Practice positivity and gratitude. I firmly believe that a happy outlook is a coat of Armour.

And lastly remember that if you DO come down with that terrible flu or cold that everyone else seems to have you can look on the bright side here too. A lot of toxins get thrown off at a time like this and, who knows, maybe you really do need a few days tucked up in bed!