4 ways to support a healthy immune response, naturally

The immune system is the guardian of our health.  Its job is to provide protection from invaders, germs and damaged cells.  It is made up of a vast network of different cells, tissues and organs, which all work together to keep the body as healthy as possible.

If we get run down, or our immune system is not working as well as it should, we are more likely to catch colds, coughs and flu. 

These four natural ways to support a healthy immune response, could be helpful in trying to keep these infections at bay.

1. MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR DIET

  • Choose lots of fresh fruit and vegetables: Fresh produce provides important immune boosting nutrients like vitamin C and beta carotene.
  • If you like it, include garlic in your recipes.  Garlic contains a compound called allicin which has been shown to possess natural anti-bacterial properties.
  • Spice it up with some turmeric and ginger.  Both these spices have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and could be helpful for clearing coughs and sinus infections.
  • Limit tea, coffee and alcohol.  Whilst the caffeine in tea and coffee may give a temporary energy lift, they do not really support immune health.  Alcohol is known to supress the immune system, and depletes the body of nutrients, so ideally avoid drinking alcohol when you feel ‘run down’.

2. TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR LIFESTYLE 

  • Sleep tightly. Sleep is key to a healthy immune system, as well as being vital to energy levels and mental wellbeing.
  • Deal with any stress.  Stress impairs the immune response and can negatively impact sleep. 
  • Exercise regularly.  Sensible, regular exercise can help to support a healthy immune system, reduce stress and improve sleep.  It is important to remember however, that the key to everything is moderation – over exercising can actually make things worse.
  • If you smoke – stop!  Smoking is one of the worst lifestyle choices for the immune system. 

3. EXPLORE IMMUNE BOOSTING NATURAL REMEDIES

Nutrients such as zinc, selenium, vitamin D and vitamin D are all needed to keep your immune system working normally. As well as these nutrients there are other natural approaches which can provide some extra support if you are unlucky enough to get poorly:

  • Beta Glucans: Research has shown that taking a daily supplement providing yeast sourced beta glucans could help to reduce the number of infections suffered by 25%. Look for a product listing Beta (1,3) Glucans, as this indicates the right source and quality of product for immune support. 
  • Echinacea: Echinacea is a traditional herbal remedy which can be used to relieve symptoms of the common cold and influenza type infections.  It is generally taken at the onset of any symptoms.  Echinacea can be safely used alongside any other nutritional products aimed at supporting the immune system, as well as over the counter cold and flu medications. 
  • Elderberry: Elderberry supplements have been shown to be effective at reducing the symptoms and duration of colds and flu.   It is thought that the flavonoids found in elderberry can bind to the flu virus and help transport it out of the body.

4. LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT FOR ULTIMATE IMMUNE HEALTH

The gut houses up to 70% of our immune cells, so the health of the gut and the good bacteria which live there can have a massive impact on immune health.  In my next blog I will explore the many ways that our good bacteria help to keep the bad bugs at bay.

Written by Jenny Logan DNMed (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years).

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