In a world where we have so little control right now, it’s important to concentrate on the things we can do.
One positive thing we can achieve is to support our immune system during this time by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle which both play a key role in supporting our immunity as well as our mental health. I’ve tried to make this a quick simple guide because we are all experiencing information overload right now.
Foods for strengthening your immune system:
Fruit & veg - 4-5 servings are realistic for many due to food availability (although under normal circumstances, ideally 8-10 servings) as fruit & veg contain immune boosting compounds and help to keep your gut healthy. Use those tins of food that have been in your cupboard by adding beans and lentils to your soups and stews to increase the nutrient content.
Zinc rich foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, legumes, pumpkin & sesame seeds because zinc is required for the proper functioning of white blood cells.
Garlic because it has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities so is really great at helping fight off infections along with other anti-viral foods such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.
Vitamin C - peppers, green leafy veg like spinach, kale, cabbage & watercress, broccoli, kiwi, cauliflower, tomatoes and berries. Research shows the powerful antiviral action of vitamin C.
Vitamin D - small amounts are found in oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Vitamin D is one of the most powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. However, during the winter we need to supplement with Vitamin D3 supplements as we cannot get any from the sun until mid to end April.
Water - ensure that you drink enough water as sufficient hydration will allow your immune cells to function optimally.
Sugar in your diet and avoid eating sugary foods like sweets, pastries, cookies and drinking sugary, fizzy drinks. Sugar will spike your blood sugar as well reducing the effectiveness of your immune system.
Alcohol and caffeine as these suppress the immune system and affect the deep stages of sleep. Alcohol is also a depressant and if you are struggling, it will lower your mood even more
Lifestyle tips to support your immune system:
Manage your exposure and control the information that you are taking in. Limit the amount of news you watch, rely on reputable news sources and be mindful of where you are obtaining news and information. Be careful what you listen to or look on social media as there is a lot of ‘noise’ out there and it can be all too overwhelming.
Sleep - make sure you get plenty of sleep as lack of sleep reduces our immune defences making us more susceptible to illness.
Manage your stress levels - stress levels are at an all-time high and whilst this cannot be avoided at the moment, the issue is that stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) suppress the immune system and so finding ways to reduce these levels by rest and relaxation is really important during this time. If you can, take some time for ‘me’ each day and give yourself a break. Listening to music, reading, meditation, having a bath are good ways to relax.
Set a routine - as this will give your day structure and help you to gain some control in a world where we have so little right now. However, adopt a routine that works for you
Finally, if you feel like you’re coming down with something, supplement with Vitamin C as this has antiviral properties and has been shown to help fight off infections or alternatively consider an immune supporting complex.
Remember, get advice from health and wellness experts who are qualified and experienced like myself and be very careful of taking your advice form Dr Google.
If you would like some support and help to get through these challenging times then please don’t suffer in silence.