Due to the current climate, supporting your natural immunity seems to be a key priority for many of us. With bountiful resources available regarding how to wash your hands, it is also important to look inwards at supporting & strengthening the immune systems natural responses. I have outlined some key points that (alongside good hygiene practices) can benefit your general, natural immunity.
- Eat a colourful diet:
Eating a full spectrum of colour in the diet is one of the best & easiest ways to support the immune system. Colourful fruit & vegetables are nutrient dense & rich in key nutrients such as Vitamins A, C & E which act as potent antioxidants & play a vital role in support of immune & inflammatory conditions. Think about ‘eating the rainbow’ & eating a variety throughout the day. Some great options include berries, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes & tomatoes.
- Include zinc rich foods:
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system.
Good sources include: beef, lamb. sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, cashews, turkey, quinoa, seafood, spinach and asparagus. Sprinkling seeds on top of soups, salads & smoothies is a good way to top up your intake.
3. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D has many roles in the body including regulating inflammation & proper immune functioning.
Limited amounts can be found in food sources including: egg yolks, mushrooms & oily fish such as mackerel & salmon.
Sufficient intake is obtained via the synthesis of sunlight on the skin, so supplementation is recommended for people living in the northern hemisphere during the winter months.
4. Look after your gut health:
With 70% of the immune system residing in the gut it is of utmost importance to feed it correctly.
It is important to think about:
- Providing the gut with ‘good’ bacteria aka Probiotics: probiotic rich foods include miso, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut & kimchee, live yoghurt.
- Feeding the beneficial bacteria via Prebiotics: fibre rich foods that help to feed & nourish the good bacteria in the gut – leeks, onions, jeruselum artichokes, banana, asparagus, garlic.
5. Include herbs & spices:
Many herbs & spices contain antimicrobial & immune stimulating properties good varieties to include: raw garlic, ginger, turmeric, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary & green tea. Think about adding to teas, curries, soups & dressings as nutritional boosters.
6. Limit or avoid processed & sugary foods
These foods can be taxing on the digestive system & are generally lower in nutrients. Replacing ‘beige’ foods with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts & seeds which are naturally more nutrient dense helps to support the function of the immune system by providing more nutrients to the body.
7. Manage your stress levels:
Cortisol (the bodies main stress hormone) has a negative effect on immunity.
Some great, practical ways to help manage stress include:
- Deep breathing
- Gentle exercise such as walking (if possible) or pilates
- Journalling or speaking to a friend
- Keeping a gratitude diary
- Taking a bath
8. Good sleep quality:
Poor sleep has a negative impact on the immune system as this is the bodies primary time for repair & rejuvenation.
Top tips for good quality sleep include:
- Having a constant sleep/wake cycle – ideally getting to sleep before 11pm.
- No blue light 1 hour before bed (phones, TV, tablets) try reading, taking a bath or journaling.
- Natural light in the day to help reset your natural sleep/wake cycle.
* Please note: there is currently no evidence to support protection again the specific COVID-19 strain at present.