6 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

By Rhian

A strong body depends on a strong immune system – without it, we’re unable to fend off harmful viruses, bacteria and can become over reactive to our environments. With darker days and cold weather around the corner, it’s essential to start thinking about how to support the immune system this winter. Those of us who love exercise need to pay extra attention, because although exercise can boost the immune system – it also uses up a lot of vitamins, minerals and actually draws on the immune system to help repair the body, so we need to ensure we’re replacing lost nutrients and supporting the immune system to get the best out of our training and breeze through the winter feeling strong & healthy. For our top 6 tips, read on....


The Immune Triad

Vitamin C, Vitamin D & Zinc are basically superheroes when it comes to immunity. Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system. It increases macrophage (a type of immune cell) activity, is a powerful antioxidant and is antimicrobial. Zinc enhances the activity of natural killer cells and other immune mediated reactions, and is another must have for a strong immune system. Vitamin D is also essential for a properly functioning immune system and is one that is particularly called for in the UK over the long, dark winters.


Raw Garlic

A tad on the extreme side, but pretty-darn effective. Raw garlic is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and is a great way to support the immune system. Peel your garlic, cut into a few pieces (not too small, they should be pill sized) and swallow whole/without chewing. No need to worry, this shouldn't cause any odour or garlic breath (phew!).


Gut Support

Upwards of 70% of our immune system is found in the gut, so it only makes sense to ensure that we give it some love if we want to ensure immunity is strong. The best way to do this is by removing certain foods that are notoriously bad for the gut & supplement with a strong probiotic. Trans fats, MSG, and other heavily processed chemical laden foods wreak havoc on the gut. If you're feeling like you're about to come down with something - watch out for sugar & alcohol as well. The immune system is immediately suppressed within 30-60 minutes of consuming them, and can stay suppressed for hours depending on the amount you've had. Treat your microbiome with a high-quality probiotic (you want 30 billion +) to encourage good immune function and a positive balance between beneficial & harmful bacteria.


Sleep

Getting to bed before 10:30 when you're feeling under the weather is one of the most impactful things to do and is important to allow the body to repair & fight off any incoming infection. To make it even more effective - have a light potassium broth or bone broth for dinner so that the body doesn't use its energy on digestion overnight and has more time to repair & ward off infection.


Hot Shots

These little guys pack I'm a concentrated punch of anti-inflammatory, immune boosting phytonutrients. There are a lot of variations of hot shots, but the base is always lemon, ginger and cayenne. You need a juicer to juice the ginger, but alternatively you can buy these at juice bars, farmers markets and selected boutiques (like Psycle). The hotter the better - this is really whatever you can stand. Try the juice of 1 whole lemon, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 4 inches ginger (juiced) and water. Other great additions include: 1 ml oil of oregano (expensive, but highly potent and 1 bottle will last you ages), 1tsp Manuka honey, turmeric (2 inches fresh or 2 tsp organic powder) or 5 mls liquid echinacea.


Meditation

The benefits of meditation reach far beyond stress reduction. Research has demonstrated that even just short term meditation programs have demonstrable effects on the immune system. If you’re still on the fence about meditation, it’s probably important to reframe your view. There are lots of ways you can get a boost that don’t include sitting cross legged on a meditation pillow - simple mindfulness programs like Headspace, yin yoga, yoga nidra and even basic breath work can have a positive effect.

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