Boost your Immune System
Autumn is the time when bugs are on the increase so more people catch colds and flus. As temperatures drop and days shorten, we tend to spend more time indoors where viruses thrive as the heating is turned up. A diet that is high in sugar and low in fresh fruit and vegetables can significantly weaken our immunity. Other factors that can weaken our defences are poor sleep pattern, stress, lack of exercise, prescription medication and smoking. Telltale signs of an under par immune system are lack of energy, frequent colds, low mood, more pronounced allergies, and an overall feeling of being rundown. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to strengthen your immune system so that you are less susceptible to falling ill.
Vitamin D, Vitamin C and omega-3 essential fatty acids are key micronutrients that can support a healthy immune system. Key minerals are Zinc (beef, sesame seeds), Iron (red meat, seafood), Magnesium (pumpkin seeds, spinach) and Selenium (tuna, Brazil nuts). Phytonutrients which provide powerful antioxidants are also essential in immune support e.g. quercetin (onions), allicin (garlic), curcumin (turmeric), anthocyanin (elderberry), ellagic acid (raspberries) and resveratrol (red wine). We can get all these important nutrients from our food or from high quality supplements.
To boost your immune systems try making the following 5 adjustments to your diet:
- 3 portions of oily fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies) per week. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA which may help to regulate the immune system.
- 1 portion of nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts) or seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax seed) per day. They contain antioxidant vitamins and minerals including vitamin A and E, selenium and zinc, which play a key role in regulating the immune system.
- 5-6 portions of highly coloured fruit and vegetables per day. They contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients which may help to support the immune system. Examples include: dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potato, berries and beetroot.
- Herbs and spices – contain phytochemicals which have a strong regulatory impact on the immune system. Choose ginger, garlic, green tea and turmeric.
- Probiotics – potent immune regulators. Found in live yoghurt and unpasteurised fermented foods such as tamari, tofu, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi, unpasteurised cheese and apple cider vinegar.
If you feel a cold coming on dose yourself with Echinacea, Vitamin C or a high quality manuka honey.