How to strengthen your immune system
We often hear about the importance of boosting the immune system. The reason for this is because the immune system, which is made up of a number of cells (specific to immune function), helps the body fight nasty bugs. The good thing is that nature has given us some fantastic ingredients to help give our bodies a boost. These key nutrients and herbs, listed below, not only maintain and support the immune system but they are also antioxidants which help reduce free radical damage in the body.
- Echinacea helps support and maintain a healthy immune system. Echinacea supplementation at the onset of a cold may help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. You can also grow this at home in the garden or on the balcony in pots.
- Garlic is an antioxidant, supports the immune system and has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.
- Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant and is particularly beneficial in supporting immune function. Along with Echinacea, vitamin C may help to reduce the severity and duration of colds, when taken regularly.
- Zinc is required for immune functions and is an antioxidant. If your diet is deficient of zinc your immune system’s healthy functioning may be impaired.
- Olive Leaf is also beneficial for a healthy immune system and has natural antimicrobial properties.
Do I take immune boosters only when I am sick?
The key to staying healthy and avoiding nasty bugs is to strengthen your body’s natural defences. The immune boosters above are not only helpful when you’re sick but are also important to help your body fight off viruses that you come into contact with on a daily basis. They’re also readily available year round, so you can take them not only during the cold and flu season but throughout the year to help maintain vitality and good health.
What else can I do to help boost my immunity?
You can help look after your immune system by having a diet rich in nutrient filled fruits, vegetables and grains and by adjusting your lifestyle. To help boost your immune system you should:
- Eat as many different colours of fruits and vegetables as possible. They are packed with antioxidants and are great immune system boosters. Good examples are broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage, as well as oranges, berries and grapefruit.
- Consume beans and legumes as these provide a low fat source of protein and help maintain muscle and cell health
- Include garlic and onion in meals like healthy stir‐frys. These foods have anti‐bacterial properties and although sometimes ‘on the nose’ they also add a flavour boost to dinners.
- Limit saturated fats found in animal foods, sodium and sugar. Eating too much of these can add toxic by products to your body
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas, and limit coffee and tea
- Include ginger in your diet. It has anti‐oxidant, anti‐inflammatory and anti‐bacterial properties. Try ginger tea or adding ginger to stir‐fry’s for a healthy family dinner
- Get plenty of fresh air, sunshine and exercise
- Make sure you let you body rest and repair; ensure you get a good night’s sleep
- Avoid stress (We know this could be the hardest thing to do for a busy mum!)
Are vitamin and mineral supplements as good as a healthy diet?
A wholesome healthy diet is ideal but topping up your diet with a vitamin and mineral supplement can help ensure you are getting nutrients that you might otherwise be missing out on. Our busy lifestyles sometimes mean a take‐away meal makes life easier (and a great treat!) but unfortunately, it’s not always as nutritious as fresh wholesome foods. So topping up with a multivitamin and mineral is a handy idea.