There are many nutrients that can help your immunity. I will share with you my tips for how to boost your immune system, naturally.
NUTRIENTS TO SUPPORT IMMUNITY
VITAMIN D – THE SUNSHINE HORMONE
I am constantly seeing clients who have low levels of vitamin D even in summer!
Indoor lifestyle, excessive sunscreen use and poor absorption are often the reasons. As we head into winter Vitamin D levels naturally drop due to cooler weather and less exposure to the sun. Deficiency of this vitamin will increase susceptibility to infection.
Studies have shown that adequate Vitamin D levels protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall. Exposing as much skin as possible body for 5-10 mins every day to is a good way maximise Vitamin D3. But as winter approaches and sun is not really an option, or you can’t get out in the sun for other reasons you may need to supplement. I recommend a blood test to check Vitamin D3 once a year prior to winter to ascertain Vitamin D3 adequacy.
VITAMIN C – THE HERO
Our bodies don’t make Vitamin C nor do we store it, so we need to consume it in the diet. The minimum dose to prevent infection is 200mg a day. However, it can be challenging to get adequate daily amounts in comparison to supplementing. Most adults can take 1000mg, a day which is the dose recommended for fighting infection (to give you an idea, an orange contains 52mg).
Many studies show that vitamin C can reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections. A therapeutic dose (over 1000mg) is capable of relieving chest pain, fever, and chills, as well as shortening the time of confinement during the common cold. Vitamin C supports various cellular functions in the immune system as well and strengthens our natural barrier against microbes and pathogens.
ZINC – THE STRENGTHENER
Zinc is an indispensable trace mineral playing an essential role in each and every cell. In humans, zinc is related to over 300 mechanisms involved in normal body functioning. From an immune system perspective, it is thought to help decrease susceptibility to acute lower respiratory tract infections (like pneumonia) by regulating various immune functions, including protecting the health and integrity of the respiratory cells during lung inflammation or injury.
Zinc-rich foods are shellfish, meats, vegetables, oily fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, wholegrains and dark chocolate. A tablespoon of pumpkin seeds each day or sardines on toast 3 times a week can help support Zinc levels. If you have chronic disease or are on medications that deplete Zinc such as the oral contraceptive pill, corticosteroids or many other prescription medicines you may need to consider supplementation.
VITAMIN A – FOR HEALTHY LUNGS
Vitamin A deficiency is also associated with higher rates of asthma and emphysema and retaining Vitamin A sufficiency in these diseases has shown to preserve lung function. Vitamin A cannot be made by our bodies so it needs to be consumed regularly. It increases our resistance to infection by enhancing antibody production and maintaining the stability of the mucosal barriers. It is currently the most common nutrient deficiency in the world
Foods rich in this nutrient and help strengthen the lungs are: apples, apricots, eggs, chicken and turkey, organic beef liver, broccoli, dark leafy greens, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables.
GARLIC & GINGER – TRADITIONAL FRIENDS
Garlic contains natural antiviral and antibacterial compounds. Ginger has natural anti- inflammatory and pain relieving properties. It also helps improve circulation to the lungs and reduces inflammation.
One way to ingest ginger is to boil chopped ginger in water, strain the ginger out, add honey and drink it as a tea. Both ginger and garlic have potent anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, garlic inhibited the growth of infectious bronchitis virus. So use garlic and ginger liberally in your cooking daily if possible. I personally like to make fresh Orange, Carrot and Ginger juice.
ECHINACEA, ASTRAGALUS, MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS – PLANTS THAT PACK A PUNCH
Echinacea is a herb with a long history of traditional use by the native Americans. It is one of the most well studied herbs and has proven to be an immune stimulant and with antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral effects. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends its use as “supportive therapy for colds and infections of the respiratory tract.”
Astragalus Root has been used by traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years and is also an Immunostimulant. WHO recommends use as “adjunctive therapy in the treatment of colds and influenza. Used to enhance the immune system”
Medicinal Mushrooms like Reishi, Maitake, Shitake, Corialus and Cordyceps contain polysaccharides that appear to have enhancing effects various immune cells. These mushrooms have been used traditionally in TCM and also used in cooking for their health benefits.
Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, good fats and plenty of filtered water to hydrate.
Avoid excessive sugar and alcohol as they affect the white immune cells ability do what they are best at! You might like to try my Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup.
SLEEP AND REST
Getting enough sleep is paramount to keeping healthy, lack of sleep – less than 7- 8 hrs a night can impact your ability to fight off infection.
What happens if you do get sick? Try these tips for relieving cold and flu symptoms.
If you have any questions or would like personalised advice on how to boost your immune system, naturally, please schedule an appointment to see Diana.