Improving your immune health
With the onset of the colder weather, we see more instances of colds, flus and other viruses that can cause upper respiratory tract infections. Building up your immune health can prevent illness and infections or reduce the longevity if you do end up getting sick. The immune system protects us from pathogens and foreign substances in the body.
Immunity is either innate, which functions immediately when faced with an invader or adaptive or acquired, which remembers invaders.
Eat a healthy diet
Eat a diverse diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats. Aim for at least 3 different coloured vegetables with each meal. Try to eat seasonally as the fruits and vegetables for the season will be high in nutrients. Best winter fruits and vegetables are:
Apple Avocado Cumquat Custard Apple Feijoa Grapefruit Kiwi Fruit Lemon Lime Mandarin Nashi Orange Pear Persimmon Pineapple Quince Rhubarb Tamarillo Tangelo
Beetroot Bok Choy Broccoli Broccolini Beans, Broad
Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Carrot Cauliflower Celeriac
Celery Chokos Fennel Horseradish Kale Leek Lettuce Mushrooms Okra Onion Onion, Spring Parsnip Peas Peas – Snow Potato
Pumpkin Radish Shallot Silverbeet Spinach Swede Sweet Potato Turnip Wombok
Herbs & Spices
Ginger Coriander Dill Garlic Mint
Oregano Parsley Rosemary
Ensure you stay hydrated as well as dehydration can make you susceptible to illness.
You should also reduce sugar intake as sugar, caffeine and processed foods as these suppress and deplete the immune system.
Regular exercise is important for overall health and research shows that regular moderate exercise is essential for maintaining your immune health. It helps promote healthy weight and can reduce inflammation. Regular high intensity workouts may have the opposite effect and decrease your immunity. It also helps improve your sleep and reduce your stress. If you exercise outside it also helps as you get fresh air and sunshine. Types of moderate exercise are walking, jogging, swimming and bike riding.
You should aim to get between 7 and 9 hours sleep. Less than this and your ability to fight of viruses diminishes. It contributes to both innate and adaptive immunity. Research has found that it may also help improve immune memory and regulates immune response. Poor sleep over time can increase your risk of disease and interfere with immune function.
Regular time in the sun help improve vitamin D levels which are essential for immune health.
Long term stress can lead to inflammation and imbalance immune function. Stress raised your cortisol levels which long term may weaken your immune system. Ways to reduce stress include exercise, sleep, healthy diet, journaling, meditation and practicing self care.
Avoid excess toxin exposure
Our bodies as exposed to toxins on a daily basis. They can be found in our washing powders, cleaning products, environment and foods. Most of the detoxification occurs in the liver so it is important to keep our liver healthy so if can perform optimally. The lungs also filter our toxins in the air and our intestines help destroy parasites and other unwanted organisms.
You can reduce toxins by using more natural products around the house and on your body, decreasing alcohol intake, drink more water, reduce your intake of high sugar and processed foods.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamin A – maintains the health of mucous membrane which is the bodies first defence for invading pathogens. Best sources are leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots and other yellow vegetables.
Vitamin C – destroys free radicals and supports the body’s natural defences. Best sources are oranges, strawberries, broccoli, lemons and tomatoes.
Vitamin D – reduces proinflammatory compounds in the body. Best sources are sunshine (make sure you have skin exposed, tuna, mackerel and salmon.
Vitamin E – destroys free radicals and supports the body’s natural defences. Best sources are almonds, spinach, avocado and olives.
Zinc - Boosts white blood cells that defend against viruses. Best sources are oysters, beef, chicken, lamb, nuts, legumes, pumpkin seeds, ginger and eggs.
Healthy fats – help reduce inflammation as inflammation supresses the immune system. Best sources are olive oil, chia seeds and salmon
Probiotics – promote healthy gut bacteria therefore enhancing immune cells. Best sources are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir.
You should always consult with your Naturopath or Nutritionist before self-prescribing any nutrients. Doses will depend on your unique circumstances and may interfere with medications you are taking, so always follow the prescription given to you by an accredited practitioner.
Lastly, make sure you practice good hand hygiene. Most viruses are picked up from surfaces and invade our bodies through touching our mouth, nose or eyes.
For more information on improving your immune health, book a consultation today.