In light of current news, I wanted to share some tips for supporting your immune system. Whilst we’ve been flooded with videos on how to wash our hands properly, there seems to be a lack of proactive information on other ways in which we can support the immune system. Sharing the below as a gentle reminder that there’s so much you can do to look after you and your loved ones naturally!
1. SLEEP QUALITY
Getting lots of good quality sleep is arguably the most effective way to boost the immune system. My top tips for improving sleep quality:
- Aim for 8 hours sleep every night, falling asleep before midnight
- Avoid bright lights and blue lights (screentime) at least 1 hour before bedtime. Consider dimming lights around the house
- Introduce a bedtime routine e.g. swap watching TV/emails/social media for a relaxing magnesium salt bath, a hot milk drink, reading, yoga/stretching
- Magnesium and/or Ashwagandha supplements can be useful sleep aids. Both have been clinically proven to lower stress levels by balancing cortisol (stress hormone). If using Cytoplan, you can quote 'CYT35653-10' for a 10% discount on all supplements
- Increase exposure to daylight during the day
2. VITAMIN D
Zinc is a key nutrient for the immune system. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, chickpeas, lentils, beans, seeds, nuts, eggs and whole grains (brown rice, buckwheat, oats, etc.).
4. INCREASE FRUIT & VEG
Try to ‘eat the rainbow’ to make sure you’re getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals and increase your intake to 7-10 portions daily
- Adding handfuls of leafy greens to sauces/stews
- Ratatouille, vegetable curry, soups - all great ways to pack in the vegetables. Plus, batch cooking chunky soups and stews are really economical and time saving as you can freeze portions and serve when you’re under time pressure
5. HERBS & SPICES
Herbs and spices are really nourishing and can be used in abundance in home cooking to support circulation and help boost the immune system. Some brilliant immune-boosting spices include ginger, raw garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon. These are great for soup, stew, porridge, turmeric latte, etc. I also love to add a raw garlic pesto to a bowl of pasta (right at the last minute to keep the immune-boosting properties active).
Stress is proven to seriously impact immune function and therefore finding ways to reduce day-to-day stress is one of the most important things to consider when thinking about supporting your immune health. Continue to make time for the things you enjoy and carve out extra time for activities that reduce cortisol such as deep breathing, yoga, stretching, pilates, reading, outdoor walking, or whatever it is that is your ‘meditation’. Exercise is also a brilliant way to keep the immune system active - so make sure you’re getting outdoors and keeping moving.
7. AVOID REFINED SUGAR
Sugar has a suppressive effect on the immune system and increases inflammation, so cutting back on refined sugars and processed foods can help to strengthen the immune system and improve overall well being. Cooking from scratch is one of the best things you can do for your health and makes it easy for you to avoid refined sugars.
8. GUT HEALTH
Gut health plays such a key role in the immune system. Increasing fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, yoghurt) can encourage the natural promotion of beneficial bacteria in the gut and help to strengthen overall immunity. With sauerkraut and kimchi, make sure you’re buying the refrigerated brands as these are the ones with live bacteria.