10 ways to boost your immune system
Supporting the immune system is critical to good health, as the immune system protects the body against infection. It is estimated that healthy adults get an average of two colds per year, while children can get many more. Since there is no cure for the common cold, the best approach is prevention.
It involves a comprehensive approach, including lifestyle, stress management, exercise, diet and nutritional supplementation. Only by combining these methods will they support your health and make your immune system ready to fight the viruses.
How to boost your immune system
Let's look at 10 ways to support your immune system.
1. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables
Aim for seven portions a day and this should ideally include five vegetables and two fruits. Choose different colours and eat locally and seasonally. This will alkalise your body, provide you with the antioxidants to combat free radicals, and boost your immune system with the vitamins and minerals needed for optimum health.
In particular, include:
- citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, berries (you can use frozen berries, defrosting overnight and add to your morning porridge)
- red peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables
Smoothies are a great way to incorporate a few portions in one meal. Try this:
- a handful of berries
- 1 banana
- a handful of spinach
- 1 tbsp of flaxseed or chia seed
- 1 celery stick
Simply add filtered water and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
2. Limit sugar and refined grains
Choose whole grains such as wild and brown rice, whole oats and quinoa. Studies have shown that spikes in sugar intake suppress your immune system. When your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to get sick.
Remember that sugar is addictive and it may be hard at first to reduce the intake, brace yourself for withdrawal symptoms and do not give up. The first few days will be the hardest, but you can do it!
3. Eliminate alcohol
Alcohol is a toxin and alcohol consumption is associated with a range of diseases, which can make a person more vulnerable to viral infections. In particular, alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes.
4. Avoid margarine and trans fats
Focus instead on healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Trans fats are extremely damaging to our bodies and they increase the risk of heart disease, making you vulnerable to other infections as well.
When frying, use coconut oil as it has a very high burning point meaning that it can be heated to high temperatures without becoming harmful to your body. Use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and olive oil for gentle roasting of vegetables.
5. Include adequate but not excessive amounts of protein
Protein will support your energy and muscle recover after exercise, help balance blood sugar levels and improve the feeling of satiety. Good choices are organic chicken, wild farmed salmon and grass-fed beef. Vegans should aim to include a variety of beans and lentils in their diets.
6. Drink six to eight glasses of water per day
You may include herbal teas, such as elderberry and echinacea, and freshly squeezed vegetable juices. Please note that coffee and tea does not count towards your eight glasses!
7. Take a good high-potency multivitamin and mineral supplement
Vitamin C, D and zinc are certainly the most important micronutrients to include in your supplementation.
8. Keep moving and stay active
Use the stairs, walk whenever you can. Follow a regular exercise program, ideally 3three to five times a week for 30-40 minutes. It can be any form of exercise, as long as you are moving. Try jogging, yoga or gentle weight lifting.
9. Introduce daily deep breathing and relaxation exercises
For example, meditation: there are plenty of great apps that you can use that will teach you how to meditate and help you to do it on a regular basis. Have a positive mental attitude. Employ the healing power of the mind.
10. Sleep 7-9 hours per night
Ideally starting before midnight, establish a bedtime routine. Take a bath with the Epsom salts that will have a calming effect. Stop using electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. Eat your last meal no later than 6-7 pm to allow your digestive system to have a rest and your body to regenerate.
If you're looking for help when it comes to your nutrition and eating to support your immune system, a nutritionist could help. Offering tailored advice, nutrition professionals can cater for your individual circumstances. Find a nutritionist and start your health journey today.