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Advice

How to boost your immune system

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Our immune system protects us from outside invaders – bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. We don’t really know our immune system is there and is working until we get ill or our systems become compromised. With the current Coronavirus Pandemic, it is important now more than ever to build up our immune systems.

Fatigue- related conditions are very complex in relation to immunity, but one thing is for sure, keeping your immune system robust and strong is a good way to help you on your journey to recovery.

TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IN GOOD ORDER

DIET


Eat a minimum of 5 portions of vegetables and fruits daily – eat a wide variety and have some raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, roasted or in smoothies and juices. (Limit this to 2 portions of fruit daily to minimise sugar intake). This will help you obtain a wide range of vitamins, such as Vitamin C, which has shown to boost white blood cell production and help keep your immune system strong. Examples of immune boosting foods are beetroot, kale, nettle, berries, avocado, shiitake mushrooms, grapefruit and brazil nuts.

SUGAR


Reduce your sugar intake; from refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, soft drinks and processed foods. Sugar is an immune suppressant, reducing the effectiveness of white blood cells for hours after eating it.

SLEEP


Ensure you get a good night’s sleep every night. People’s needs vary but the recommended amount is around 7-8 hours daily. Sleep helps your body to repair any damage done to cells.

NICOTINE


Don’t smoke – we all know smoking is bad for our health. Smoking depletes your body of Vitamin C (just one puff can deplete blood plasma levels of Vitamin C by up to 50%) and it depresses the immune response.

WEIGHT


Maintain a healthy weight – being underweight and overweight can compromise the effectiveness of the immune system.

EXERCISE


Exercise regularly and keep fit. In the short term, exercise may help the immune system deal with pathogens. In the long term, it reduces the risk of infections as it can slow down age-related changes in the immune system.

NUTRITION


Eat garlic, ginger and turmeric regularly, daily if possible – all have anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is one of the most effective anti-microbials, stimulating white blood cell production and acting against a range of viruses, parasites, bacteria and fungi. Try to eat it raw as much as you can; grated onto soups, added to hummus and dips, or crushed into salad dressings.

ALCOHOL


Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation. The government guideline for the maximum weekly intake is 14 units.

STRESS


Minimise stress in your life or take steps to manage your stress. Prolonged stress depletes the body of Vitamins C, B and magnesium – all of which are needed in order to maintain a healthy immune system. So, try Mindfulness, yoga or tai chi, breathing exercises or relaxation sessions to manage your stress.

HYGIENE


Keep good hygiene and wash hands frequently and thoroughly to minimise the risk of catching infection.

AROMATHERAPY OILS


Try using some aromatherapy oils to help boost your immune system. Lavender, Eucalyptus and Chamomile are all stimulating to the immune system. Try adding a couple of drops of pure lavender essential oil to your bath (Seek professional advice before using aromatherapy oils).

HERBS / SUPPLEMENTS


Consider consulting a Naturopath, herbalist or Nutritional Advisor who may recommend some immune boosting herbs or supplements, which might be particularly beneficial to you during winter or during times of illness or stress.

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