With the challenge of COVID-19 and how to stay protected, the idea of boosting the immune system has become a hot topic.
With the challenge of COVID-19 and how to stay protected, the idea of boosting the immune system has become a hot topic. There are a number of ways to help maintain a healthy immune system and fortunately most of them are simple strategies that cost very little and also have positive impacts on both physical and mental health.
1. Support your gut health
As 80% of our immune cells reside in the gut lining, this is where our body decides whether to mount a defence against invading organisms and message the immune system to begin an appropriate response.
So how do we support our gut microbiome to function efficiently? Diet is a major factor to feed our gut microbiome with the fuels they need such as prebiótics found in an assortment of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains. Also avoiding sugar and highly processed foods which can negatively alter our gut microbiome.
2. Regular Exercise
As well as improving physical and mental health, regular exercise has been shown to boost the immune system. Just don’t overdo it as chronic overtraining can increase susceptibility to infections.
3. Adequate Sleep
Yes, once again lack of sleep has been shown to be associated with impaired immune function.
4. Stress Management
Stress has major impacts on all our major body systems and the immune system is no different. Cortisol lowers production of specific immune cells and an important antibody called secretory IgA which is the first line of defence for the respiratory tract and gut. Time to start meditating and applying all the above points to our daily routine!
5. Sunshine and Nature
Many studies are now confirming the benefits of spending time in nature or greenspace for both our mental health and decreasing cortisol levels. Also the added bonus of improving our vitamin D levels if we get enough exposure to sunlight.
6. Supplements that support immune system function
These 3 supplements have consistently been shown to support immune function:
Zinc- affects multiple aspects of the immune system and average doses range between 15mg-30mg daily
Vitamin D - regular exposure to sunlight is the best way to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D, however especially during winter, using supplements of 2000IU daily may be necessary.
Vitamin C - 1000mg- 2000mg daily has been shown to benefit immunity.
7. Mushroom Supplements
Some of the most immune supporting, anti viral and anti cancer substances have been found in mushrooms which include the following: Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake.
Mushroom supplements come in various forms including capsules, powders and liquids. Ideally discuss their use with your healthcare practitioner.
So what is the takeaway message regarding boosting immunity? Start with the foundational lifestyle factors, add supplements where possible and get further advice where appropriate.