Supporting your immune system

We are all looking for ways to look after our health and that of our loved ones.  Of course, there is no food or supplement that can protect you from getting the coronavirus. You should follow the Government guidelines; wash your hands and adhere to social distancing rules. But, there are some things we can all do to support our immune function and the body’s resilience when it comes to fighting infection and dealing with stress. 

Opt for a diet rich in colourful fruit and vegetables, which are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants all contributing to a healthy immune system. These may be harder to get hold of right now, so also consider frozen options, stewed fruit to make it last for longer and soaking dried fruit when fresh isn’t available.  

Here is a run down of some nutrients to pay particular attention to:

  • Vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits (orange, lemon, limes, grapefruit), kiwis, strawberries, broccoli, sprouts, red and green peppers and berries (including Acai).  It may enhance the effectiveness of our first line of defence and effectiveness of the immune cells responsible for eliminating free radicals.  It’s also believed to be particularly useful for respiratory infections. 
  • Vitamin A, found in orange and yellow fruit and vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes as well as broccoli, spinach and dark green leafy veg.  It helps keep the body’s first line of defence healthy by regulating something called secretory IgA.  
  • Vitamin D found in mushrooms (the plant based source) as well as oily fish and egg yolks.  Living in the UK, the NHS recommends supplementation of a minimum of 1000iu between October and April, particularly when the immune system may be compromised.  

Manage stress. Stressful situations stimulate cortisol, the stress hormone, which when chronically raised can impact on immune function.  Build some calming activities into your day; conscious breathing exercises, yoga, listening to calming music, drawing, breathing in some fresh air if you can and carving out time to speak to loved ones.  Find what works for you and make it a priority. Increasing your intake of foods rich in magnesium and B vitamins such as green leafy veg (spinach, kale), nuts and seeds, cruciferous veg (broccoli, cabbage, sprouts) legumes and seafood will also help to balance the nervous system. Try our online arts and crafts our yoga classes.

Prioritise sleep. Strong evidence exists that sleep enhances immune defence and helps healing.  When we don’t get enough our infection fighting antibodies and immune cells are compromised.  Aim for 7-8 hours a night, keep a regular sleep/wake cycle with the aim of being asleep by 11pm as the immune system is believed to recharge between 11pm & 2am. 

If you’d like more support with your nutrition contact Sarah, who is offering mini consultations free or in exchange for a small donation – funds raised will all go to the National Emergency Trust.