How to boost your immunity
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips for boosting your immunity.
It is a very difficult time for all of us at the moment. But there are some things which we can all do to improve our wellness and boost our immunity. The immune system is always ‘on guard’ to fight any infections or bugs. A high temperature and those aches and pains which often occur when you’ve picked up an infection are mainly down to an immune response; a high temperature is needed to kill off viruses or unwanted bacteria.
So, from a nutritional viewpoint, what can we do to best defend ourselves?
Sugar in all its forms is an immune suppressant; this means table sugar, honey (excluding Manuka honey), fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits and alcohol. It has been found that drinking two averaged-sized fizzy drinks can suppress the immune system for at least two hours afterwards, and maybe for as long as five hours!
Remember too all the ‘hidden’ sources of sugar such as cereals and ready meals. The best advice is to try to eat food in its natural state and to use natural sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia, which can also be used for cooking. There’s also nothing better for you than drinking plain water so swap out those sugary drinks for some water or add some fresh fruits for an extra flavour hit.
Increase immune-friendly nutrients
There are a few key nutrients that specifically support immunity, so it makes sense to ensure you and your family are including these in your diet on a daily basis.
Vitamin C is found in all fruits and vegetables and helps increase white blood cell production when needed. It is also a key antioxidant, protecting the body against free radicals which can attack the immune system.
Vitamin D is primarily made on the skin in the presence of sunshine but can also be found in small amounts in egg yolks, fish, liver and cheese. It is key to building a healthy immune system and Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a supplement of a minimum of 10mcg of Vitamin D every day.
The mineral zinc is another well-known immunity booster. It’s found in meat, sea foods, wholegrains, seeds and nuts.
One of the best insurance policies for the body to ensure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs on a daily basis, is to take a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.
Take immune-friendly herbs
Two herbs that are well worth keeping in your medicine cabinet are Echinacea and Pelargonium.
Echinacea helps support white blood cell production, essential for a healthy immune system.
Alternatively, the herb pelargonium can be particularly effective and is suitable for all the family from the age of six years onwards. As well as exhibiting a direct antiviral action, pelargonium also boosts the activity of immune cells in the body, which themselves have an antiviral activity.
- Bex Bradburn