How to boost your immune system with simple diet and lifestyle changesDecember 16, 2018
Our immune system guards against infection 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No wonder it can be overworked at times.
So, rather than waiting for the first sign of a sniffle, here are some tips on how to keep your body’s natural defences fighting fit throughout the day.
Lemon water: Drinking a pint of warm lemon water is a great way to start the day.
As well as boosting hydration, it is a simple way to increase vitamin C intake and is thought to help digestion.
Lemon water has a long tradition in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as it is believed to cleanse and detoxify.
Live bacteria supplements: These aid digestion and support the immune system, over 70 per cent of which resides in the gut lining.
Taken over the winter months, they can shorten colds and reduce the severity of symptoms.
Multi-strain products, such as Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Advanced Formula, £9.25 from bio-kult.com, with 14 different strains, are believed to have more positive benefits.
Some evidence suggests that taking them just before a meal enhances survival of the bacteria.
Most people also find it easiest to remember to take supplements with their breakfast.
Make lunch colourful: With meal deals and pack-ups often consisting of sandwiches and crisps, many people’s lunches are distinctly beige and lacking in nutrients.
The different colour pigments in fruit and vegetables indicate their different health properties.
Orange varieties are high in beta-carotene, while purple ones have proanthocyanidins, with powerful antioxidants.
As the immune system needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy, eating a rainbow of different colours is important.
So pack a fresh rainbow salad with good quality protein.
Take a walk: Eating lunch in front of your computer is bad for digestion. Going for a stroll outside offers a number of health benefits, such as lowering cortisol levels and increasing vitamin D.
Protein-rich snacks: Many people get an after-lunch lull, which means they reach for cakes and biscuits by 3pm. Instead, have protein-rich snacks on hand.
Not only does protein help stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing energy crashes, but it also provides the building blocks for many of the body’s immune cells. Diets too low in protein have been shown to have a negative impact on immunity.
Unsalted nuts, seeds, boiled eggs, oatcakes topped with smoked salmon or mackerel, veg sticks with hummus and chia pudding are all good protein-rich snacks.
Exercise: Regular moderate exercise has immune-enhancing effects and boosts the gut microbiome in some individuals. Why not join MoveGB to check out exercise classes in your area?
Eat early: Avoiding meals too late at night is thought to have a number of benefits for digestion and quality of sleep.
Emerging research is also indicating that having an overnight fast of 12-16 hours has other health benefits, such as cleansing damaged cells.
Go to bed early: Studies have shown that people who had a good night’s sleep after vaccinations created more protective anti-bodies than those who were sleep-deprived.
Prolonged periods of not getting enough sleep are likely to have a negative effect on immune function.
Sticking to a regular bedtime and avoiding blue-light from electronic devices for at least an hour before bed helps to regulate circadian rhythms and production of sleep hormone melatonin.
Soaking in a magnesium salt bath and reading a book may also help you to drop off.
- Hannah Braye is a nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult – bio-kult.com.
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