Get Ready to Boost Your Immune System
As worries continue around the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, many more people are concerned about staying healthy and boosting their immune system.
We’ve collated the best immunity booster tips that can benefit your body and naturally boost your defences against viruses and bacteria.
Your immune system is a network of interacting cells and proteins throughout your body that works to defend your body against infection. The healthier your immune system the less severely cold, flu and virus symptoms will affect you and the quicker you will be able to recover from an attack.
Eat A Healthy Diet
There is truth behind the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and to mis-quote the Wall Street movie “Green is good” (not greed!). Eating a varied diet rich in essential vitamins can help your immune system fight illness. Fruit and vegetables are where we can get most nutrients and a simple rule is that the more colourful the mix of fruit and vegetables the better, with plenty of green. The best way to get a mix of nutrients is through food although you can supplement this with a good multivitamin.
One of the biggest immune boosters of all is Vitamin C. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and all types of berries. Another good source of Vitamin C is in green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli.
A mix of fruit and vegetables also provide protective antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals that can damage some cells, in essence this should also boost overall health and immunity. Antioxidants are also found in other foods such as green tea, ginger and garlic. Green tea with ginger would give a double immune boost, but we don’t recommend the flavour if you add garlic!
Fish is also a good source of immune boosting nutrients. Vitamin B6 is vital for supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system, foods rich in Vitamin B6 include salmon and tuna, as well as in green vegetables and beans like chickpeas. Fatty fish, such as salmon is a great source of Vitamin D. As the New York Times reported there is some evidence that Vitamin D could help your body fight respiratory illness for older people, vitamin D at a reasonable level is in most multivitamins but can also be taken separately at a higher dose.
Overall to get a better diet try and avoid reliance on processed foods, such as sweets, soft drinks, and fast foods. In general these provide empty calories, an energy boost but without the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Where possible replace with fruit, vegetables, lean meat and whole grains.
More Good Habits, Less Bad Ones
Every part of your body benefits from doing more good habits and avoiding the ones we all know are bad. Healthy living should always include getting regular exercise which doesn’t mean running a marathon, but getting in 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week and choosing to walk often. Our bodies thrive on activity. Obviously our immune system works better when not dealing with the bad habit assaults, so definitely avoid smoking which suppresses the immune response, drink less and in moderation, and maintain a healthy weight.
Reduce Your Stress
Modern medicine now realises the link between the mind and the body, and in particular the impact of stress. The difficulty is that different things stress different people and to different levels. However in many studies over the years people who reported less stress in their lives were less likely to develop cold symptoms. Your immune system does a better job fighting off illness when it's not under stress. There are many techniques to combat stress with things like meditation, mindfulness, exercise and relaxation. Some supplements such as Vitamin B complexes offer stress support.
Living a balanced lifestyle also helps to combat stress and support the immune system. We should celebrate and enjoy things like social connection with friends, enjoying a laugh, and having a healthy sex life. There is evidence too that pet owners have lower blood pressure compared to those that don’t, although that may be in part as they are more likely to undertake physical activity in walking the dog!
Get More Sleep
A sleep-deprived immune system does not operate as well as a healthy one. The current recommendation is that we aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and to try and stick to a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up. To help with sleep avoid over stimulation just before, so no screen-time, late night eating or exercise, just before bed. There are specific supplements for sleep support if this is an issue.
Natural Health Immune Boosters
The most important thing you can do for a healthy immune system is to eat a balanced healthy diet full of the right foods and live a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and reduces bad habits. Natural health products can also help with adding a further immune boost for some who need it whether that be support for stress, sleep and more specifically immune support.
Black Elderberry has been used in traditional folk medicine for generations. It is used to enhance the immune function particularly for the relief of colds, coughs and respiratory congestion.
Zinc in your body helps to fight off bacteria and viruses. Zinc, like Vitamin C, are not naturally produced by your body so needs to be consumed from food or through a quality supplement. Zinc is contained in foods such as egg yolks, seafood, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Turmeric contains the active compound Curcumin, and has many beneficial properties for gut health, brain function as well as improving the immune system. Turmeric is the well-known golden coloured spice used in Indian cooking. Turmeric is a great source of curcumin in foods, and can be added to drinks as well.
Probiotics are good strains of bacteria present in the colon and assist in producing white blood cells which support immune function. Probiotics are present in some foods such as fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi, and have become popular as a drink such as kombucha. Probiotic supplements as well as supporting immune function are also helpful with gut and digestion health.
The Bottom Line
There is no single magic solution to boost your immune system. But there are real improvements you can make that give you the best chance of an immunity boost.
There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle that combines a great diet with exercise, reduced stress and good sleep. For some with particular gaps or needs, it may be advantageous to add a natural health supplement dependent on where your needs are, or after consulting with a doctor.