Nutrition has a key role in building a strong immune system. With a strong immune system, you increase your resistance to colds, flu and other infections but also you can help protect yourself against chronic diseases.
Key Steps to Boosting Your Immune System
- A healthy lifestyle is essential for immunity. Be sure to eat a healthy diet. Eat about 3 fruits and 5-6 portions of vegetables a day.
- Avoid refined sugars (sweets) and make sure you get plenty of good quality protein from fish, beans, nuts and grass-fed meat if available.
- Drink lots of water. Water is critical to the health of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.
- Get enough rest and sleep.
- Continue to exercise even if you are staying at home. Search You Tube for videos with exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level. For example “1 Mile Happy Walk” is a 15 minute simple aerobic class which is appropriate for most ages, even for children.
- Stress lowers immunity. Take steps to manage any stress caused by the current situation or other factors. For example you can drink Lemon Balm tea or use lavender essential oil in a diffuser. Practice techniques to activate the relaxation response, such as breathing exercises, visualization, or meditation (again lots of videos for these online).
- Maintain an appropriate body weight. Staying at home is very challenging for most people and there is a tendency to overeat. This has a huge negative impact on the immune system.
Nutrients and Supplements that Boost the Immune System
1) Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is crucial for a healthy immune system. Unfortunately it is at its lowest levels at this time of the year. Research has showed that Individuals with vitamin D blood levels lower than 38 ng/ml had twice as many upper respiratory tract infections as those with higher levels. Another study showed that children that took 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily reduced their risk of developing the flu by 58 percent. And in a larger study with about 11,000 people the researchers found that vitamin D supplementation reduced respiratory tract infections by 50%.
*** If your vitamin D3 levels are low (which is very likely), then you will benefit from vitamin D3 supplementation:
– Adults dose: 3,000 IU – 5,000 IU / day
– Children aged 3-10 years: 500 – 1.000 IU / day
– Children aged 11-17 years: 1,000 – 2,000 IU / day
*** Unfortunately vitamin D is found in very small amounts in foods. It is synthesized by our skin when we are exposed to the sun. So instead of a supplement, on a sunny day, if you can spend about 20-25 minutes on a veranda or outdoors (leaving some skin exposed) in order to produce enough vitamin D.
2) Probiotics. A great number of research has proven that the microbiome (the healthy bacteria in our gut) are key to the immune system. Try to eat daily goats and sheep yogurt or Live yogurt, kefir or fermented vegetables (sauerkraut). You can also take a multi-strain probiotic supplement.
3) Vitamin C. Vitamin C has powerful antiviral effect. We have known for years now that vitamin C makes cold and flu have less duration and less severe symptoms. Boost your diet with a glass of fresh orange juice, add lemon in your smoothies and have kiwis and berries often. To increase the antiviral capacity of your body then take a supplement with about 500 to 1000 mg Ascorbic Acid per day.
4) Zinc. A mineral with a great role in the immune response. It can be found in meat, chicken, shellfish such as mussels and shrimps, nuts, beans and seeds. If you are taking an Immune Supporting supplement ask for one which includes zinc.
5) β-glucans. They are found in medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion’s Maine, Maitake, Shiitake. Beta glucans boost the immune system. You can find them in powder form that can be added in drinks like smoothies, cocoa drink and even in your coffee. You can finally find them as nutritional supplements.
6) Herbs for tea: echinacea and elderberry.
7) Manuka honey. Manuka honey is produced by a specific kind of bees in North New Zealand. It has incredible antibacterial and antiviral properties and is a great antioxidant. Scientists have created the Unique Manuka Factor – UMF, an indication of the antibacterial strength of the honey. The medicinal properties of the Manuka honey start from a UMF of 10+. The higher the UMF the stronger the antibacterial and antiviral power (i.e. 12+, 15+, 20+ and 24+).
**** People with autoimmune conditions are advised to avoid echinacea and elderberry.
Nutrition can be our ally for good health, so boost your diet with protective foods and protective nutrients!