9 essential tips to support your immune system. By Kristina Carman
1. Water, Water, Water
Stress dehydrates. Coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, excess salt dehydrates. Our bodies are made up of oil and water. Water is so essential on a cellular level for supporting our electrolyte balance. Keeping our cells well hydrated means pathogens are less able to invade and take over. Aim for at least 1.5L and way more if you take any of the above mentioned diuretics. Stress is a big one and we’re all stressed right now! Keep drinking that H2O. Water also support digestion so you will absorb your nutrients from your food better. Load up on whole foods, vegetables and fruit (in moderation) as these also support in keeping you hydrated and your body nutrient rich. Diet and adequate hydration plays a huge role and it is one of the simplest ways we can support our immune system.
2, Vitamin D
The Sunshine Vitamin. Vitamin D is vital to immunity and one in five of us are deficient. It’s difficult to get adequate amounts from our food and we simply don’t have enough sunlight in the UK. Plus as soon as the sun comes out we cover in suncream, which limits Vitamin D absorption. Those with darker skin tones will take longer to absorb sun as well.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is stored in the body. So it’s important to get your levels checked first if you want to supplement with higher doses than the RDI of 400 iu per day. Note: The more body fat you have the more Vitamin D you need. The Vitamin D test is a simple, inexpensive and an easy finger prick that will give you an idea of your levels and then you’ll know how to supplement. Bottom line: we need Vitamin D as it supports all the cells in the body and calcium absorption which is not only essential for bone health but also our all important blood sugar balance.
3. Vitamin C
An incredibly powerful antioxidant and it's a natural anti-histamine. Dose little and often as too much at once and your body will just eliminate it. About a 1000mg a day in a spray sublingually (under tongue) or as a food state supplement is great. Great for kids too. Small and often: a spay is handy for this.
Another fab immune support, but another one that is stored in the body so again it’s a good one to know your levels. However, a lot of us are actually zinc deficient. Up to about 15mg (more can be taken but under guidance of practitioner) zinc lozenges are great, and super great for kids too.
This resets or rehabilitates the mitochondria on a cellular level and is really great to take post viral, but also during the cold and flu season to keep the immune response strong. Note: This supplement has some drug interactions so best to check with your doctor or a qualified nutritional therapist first.
This actually relates to eight different vitamins and is vital in our metabolic health, but also each vitamin plays a role in the immune system. Look for a great multivitamin that has all the B’s. If you are a veggie or vegan or have malabsorption issues such as Crohn’s or celiac disease you might benefit from a b-complex supplement instead.
7. Gut Health
Probiotics as a supplement first thing in the morning with some warm water and lemon (throw in ginger for an extra kick) or if you can tolerate it try adding in probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and water kefir. If eating fermented foods, look for organic and unpasteurised or raw keeping those gut health enzymes available. Don’t forget prebiotic foods, which are not only great to help the good gut bacteria colonise but also support in liver detoxification. Think bitter foods: garlic, onion, leeks, radishes, rocket leaves, dandelion leaves, endive, chicory, artichoke and asparagus.
Walking in fresh air, swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates, HIIT, anything that gets you moving and flowing, but isn’t too crazy or hard core as that’s tough on the adrenals, especially when we are super stressed. It's about balance. If you love running thats fabulous but mix it up with a couple of yoga or pilates classes to keep the balance and diversity of movement. Remember that movement supports our stress response and if we are stressed our immune system gets compromised. Stress really does affect everything. Let's get moving and breathing.
Our bodies need sleep and good quality sleep. Sleep resets everything and gives our immune system a flighting chance. But also give yourself moments in the day to take a rest, to take a break and press that reset button. Try to give yourself time before bed to unwind, read, take a hot bath with magnesium salts, light a candle whatever works to give you the space to unwind and let that all important melatonin (our sleep hormone) active for good sleep. It's so vital to our vitality.
Disclaimer: whenever embarking on any lifestyle, diet or supplementary change, please consult with your doctor or a qualified practitioner. This article is intended as advice and information only.