Support your Immune System – More important than ever!
Why support your immune system?
It is always a good idea to support your immune system in the Autumn and Winter months, to help your body to fight off any viruses that you may be exposed to. Our immune system is equipped to deal with bugs and viruses efficiently and effectively, but, as with all other systems of the body, it requires the right nutrients to work optimally.
With COVID-19 on the rise again, as well as the usual seasonal flu, supporting our immune system is more important than ever.
Signs your immune system could be struggling
Frequent infections, autoimmune conditions, digestive complaints, multiple allergies and fatigue are all common symptoms that may indicate a struggling immune system.
Thankfully, there is lots we can do through nutrition and lifestyle to help optimise our immune systems. This gives us a reduced chance of becoming unwell and a greater chance of a speedy recovery, should we succumb to one of these viruses.
Top immune supporting tips
- Eat from the rainbow – make sure you include at least 7 fist sized portions of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet, including a rainbow of colours to ensure you are consuming all the key immune supporting nutrients, like vitamins A, C and E. There is early research indicating that vitamin C may be particularly beneficial in helping COVID-19 patients have a successful recovery (Hiedra et al, 2020)
- Eat plenty of zinc rich foods – zinc is a powerful immune booster and can be found in seafood, legumes, meat, nuts and seeds, dairy, eggs, wholegrains, potatoes, green beans, kale and dark
- Get your vitamin D levels checked! – Vitamin D is incredibly important for our immune system health and we synthesise vitamin D mostly from the action of sunlight on our skin. Given that we have a lot of grey days in the UK many people here are vitamin D deficient. Early research also indicate a potential correlation between low vitamin D levels and those worst affected by COVID-19 (Grant et al, 2020)
But be careful – over supplementing vitamin D can also be harmful to our health, so get your levels tested and then speak to a Nutritional Therapist about appropriate supplementation.
- Feed your good gut bugs! – there is much research to suggest that a lack of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract can impact significantly on our immunity, but topping up our good gut bugs can really help to support development of strong immune system. These beneficial bugs are called ‘probiotics’ and can be found in a number of fermented foods, including kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, fermented miso and live yoghurt. Probiotic supplements may also be an effective way to re-populate the gut with beneficial bacteria.
- Reduce your alcohol intake – Alcohol impacts on all aspects of the immune system. The immune system is affected both by the direct impact of alcohol and through dysregulation of other components caused by alcohol (malabsorption of nutrients for example). (Molina, 2010). So, if you are a big drinker, consider reducing your consumption and always make sure you stay within the recommended limits.
- Manage your stress levels – Research indicates that psychological stress or trauma can impact on our human immune systems and increase the possibility of developing chronic illnesses long-term or exacerbating existing ones (Morey et al, 2015). So, what can you do to help prevent this? Mindfulness and yoga are helpful de-stressors, walking in nature, Epsom salt baths and spending time doing things you enjoy, as much as COVID will allow!
Immune boosting smoothie recipes
Smoothies are a great way to introduce more fruit and vegetables and anti-inflammatory spices to your diet.
Here are some of our favourite recipes: –
A handful of rocket
1 yellow pepper
1 cup of strawberries
¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
Top up with water and blend