Immunity Support: Paul Higgins
With all the madness and hysteria in the world at the moment, I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on how to boost the immune system naturally.
Some of these you’ve probably heard before and are common sense, where as others might be new. For example, hoarding toilet paper does not boost your immune system and lower your chance of infection. Who would’ve thought?
– Firstly let’s talk about the importance of a good diet. You can take all the multi-vitamins, single vitamins/minerals (Vitamin C etc.) in the world, but if your diet is lacking, your body will be lacking. Our most bio-available and easily metabolized nutrients are in our food, not a tablet! I think supplements are amazing, but they should supplement a healthy diet. A whole food diet is key. One that contains a large amount of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and some meat and poultry. If it’s in a packet, it’s probably not a ‘whole food’
– Vitamin C: Vitamin C is hotly debated and a whole can of worms can be opened on the subject. What I will say is that it can reduce the severity and duration of a cold or flu, but generally does not prevent it. Our recommended intake is only 75-90mg/day, with most Vitamin C tablets containing 1000mg. With these super high doses, most of it is excreted through the urine. Eat whole food sources of Vitamin C such as kiwi fruits, citrus and capsicum.
– Sunlight/Vitamin D: This one is easy. Go outside!! We only need about 15 minutes a day of sun exposure to top up our Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D can help to modulate our immune system and deficiency can often lead to an increase in the chance of infection. A walk out in the sun is perfect, which brings me to my next point…… Exercise!
– Exercise: Some daily, low level exercise is exactly what we need to increase blood flow and keep stress levels down. Combine this with some sunlight and your laughing your way to better immunity.
– Stress: High levels of Cortisol (our main stress hormone) can sometimes suppress the effectiveness of our immune system. Meditation, yoga, reading/writing, exercise can all help to lower stress levels.
– Sleep: It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene: Sleep quality and duration play a key role in immunity. Good sleep hygiene includes no screens right before bed, having a regular bed time and wake up time, and having the bed room as dark as possible. As the weather cools, a hot shower before bed can be beneficial in getting a good nights sleep.
– Drinking/smoking: This seems obvious, but I’ll mention it. If you want a healthy immune system, don’t smoke and only drink in moderation.
Ok, so here’s the good stuff. These are a little bit lesser known, but can be great at supporting our immune system.
– Zinc: Zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Zinc is found naturally in oysters, seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds), meat and legumes.
– Probiotic rich foods: Certain strains of probiotics may help in increasing immune function. The best way to get them is via fermented foods/drinks such as Kombucha, Kefir, Miso, Yoghurt, Sauerkraut and Kimchi.
– Medicinal Mushrooms (Reishi, Chaga, Shiitake): No! Not those kind of mushrooms… These mushrooms have been used traditionally to promote a healthy immune system for thousands of years. Reishi in particular is the most popular and is often added to stocks or used as a tea.
– Green Tea: Green tea contains Quercetin. Quercetin can help suppress the activation of immune cells and is often used as a natural anti-histamine. Green tea also contains EGCG which helps to modulate the immune system.
So there it is! The take home message is to eat clean, get moving, get out in the sun and sleep well. Diet is key, now is not the time to self-isolate with burgers and Netflix! Instead try a chicken salad and Netflix.