Disease causing bacteria and viruses can enter your body via your mouth and nose, but because you have been equipped with an immune system you are designed to fight off most of these germs. It is possible to strengthen your immune system function to reduce the severity and frequency of infections with education and some simple strategies. Traditionally, winter brings with it greater challenges to our immune health.
It’s an especially important time to look after your immune system. A Naturopathic consultation with me can offer nutritional and herbal support, as well natural medicines such as supplements and herbal tinctures and teas to boost the immune system to prevent infection or decrease its duration.
Healthy eating – Eat plenty of vegetables, spices and herbs with every meal.
It goes without saying that a diet high in fruit and especially vegetables are the basis for a healthy body and immune system. Red, yellow and orange vegetable are rich in antioxidant nutrients, lycopene, beta carotene and vitamin C, and are a great support to your immune function. Include the following immune boosters on a regular basis – garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric and chilli, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts; and beta carotene containing foods such as carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin CEat foods high in Vitamin C daily, such as citrus, kiwi fruit, pawpaw, capsicum, strawberries and pineapple. Vitamin C decreases the length of time and severity of symptoms associated with colds and flu and supports our white cell immune function.
Zincis an important mineral for immune function, healing and fighting infection. It is essential for T cell and natural killer cell function as well as proper lymphocyte activity and is involved in producing antibodies to help you fight infection. Good sources of zinc include spinach, beef, blueberries, capsicum, egg yolks, ginger, lamb, oysters, asparagus, mushrooms, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, cashews and quinoa.
Vitamin DLow vitamin D levels are associated with poor immune function. Vitamin D3 is produced in our body when sunlight hits our skin, and its properties and actions sit in the middle ground between a hormone and a vitamin, regulating more than 1000 genes in our body. In one three year study, daily supplements of Vitamin D eliminated the occurrence of yearly colds and influenza.
Foods to include are; fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, cod, halibut, butter,
egg yolks and sprouted seeds.
WaterClean fresh (preferably filtered) water, around 2L per day, or herbal teas will aid the body in excreting toxins from your body and avoids over-taxing your immune system.
Good gut health70% of your immune system is located in your digestive system so it is important to look after your gut health. Having the right bacterial balance in your gut is crucial. There are specific probiotics that help support a healthy immune system via the gut. A consultation will help to identify which ones are right for you.
Avoid SugarSugar is particularly damaging to your immune system, it suppresses the immune system which is not desirable, minimise its consumption. Excess sugar and fructose causes gut bacteria imbalance and fosters disease -70 % of your body’s immunity is located in your gut.
Reduce stressEmotional stress can predispose you to an infection. It challenges the nervous system, dampens the immune system, affects digestion, dysregulates blood sugar levels, and the list goes on. Finding suitable ways to manage daily stress will contribute to a strong and resilient immune system. Choosing suitable ways to respond and react to circumstances beyond your control will help prevent immune decline.
Relaxation and meditation are extremely beneficial for stress. There are many free apps available on our smartphones these days, one of my all-time favourites is “Insight Timer.”
It is important to be aware that ongoing stress also depletes essential vitamins and minerals from the body including amino acids.
ExerciseIncorporate movement into every day. Take the stairs, walk to the bus, or go for a walk in your lunch break (incorporating a little Vitamin D). Gentle exercise on a daily basis keeps circulation healthy and therefore blood and nutrient supply to all areas of the body. Moderate exercise helps counteract the effects of stress, helps you sleep better and clinical studies have shown regular moderate exercise strengthens the immune system and is a useful strategy to counteract the decline in immune function with ageing. Yoga, tai chi and relaxation exercises are better for certain people and are therefore a more appropriate choice.
Hand-washingwill help protect you from colds and flu germs. Liquid or bar soap with warm water for around 20 seconds, being sure to get in between all of the fingers. Hand washing and thorough drying is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections and can reduce infection rates by up to 40 per cent.
Chicken soupThe minerals from the chicken bones combined with onion, garlic, chilli and ginger plus added vegetables and herbs give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off any invaders. Coconut cream, noodles and curry powder to give it an Asian twist. Add lots of root veggies to the slow cooker as well to bump up the nutrients.

Copyright © Samantha Lluisé of Lotus Womens Health 2021

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