We’re heading into the colder months in England so January is a timely month for immune defence tips. These guidelines can be used all year round when you feel your immune system might need a gentle boost.
IMMUNE BOOSTING NUTRITION
Vitamin C & Zinc both enhance the immune system and deficiency can result in increased incidence of illness and/or longer and more severe infections. Ensure you are eating foods high in both nutrients by including the following foods in your diet.
- Foods high in Vitamin C include all types of berries, citrus fruits, papaya, rockmelon, cauliflower, snowpeas, broccoli, parsley and watercress
- Foods high in Zinc include sea foods, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sesame seeds, tahini, cashew nuts, cacao, quinoa, spinach and other leafy green vegetables.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GUT HEATLH
Good gut health is one of my passions. Around 70% of our immune system starts in our gastrointestinal tract & the beneficial microflora that reside there are key to optimal physical and emotional health. If you gut is out of balance your digestion will be too meaning you may not be absorbing all the beneficial nutrients you receive from food, your immunity could be low and your body may find it difficult to eliminate pathogens. If you believe your gut health is poor, the best thing to do is to work with a qualified nutritionist or naturopath.
Beneficial nutrients for gut health include glutamine for cellular repair, slippery elm to help repair the lining of the gastro intestinal tract and a multi strain probioitc to replenish the beneficial microbiota. Include probiotic foods in your diet such as kefir, yoghurt and fermented foods or prebiotics, which stimulate the growth of beneficial gut microflora such as Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, onion, banana, legumes, cruciferous vegetables & raw garlic.
IMMUNE BOOSTING HERBS
Immune boosting herbs that can easily be added to recipes include garlic, turmeric & ginger.
- Garlic is a fantastic immune enhancer. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial, antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Adding garlic to your diet will help protect you against infection & illness.
- Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has potent antioxidant properties. It is also highly anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and a natural pain killer. Curcumin will also help protect the liver and promote digestion whilst you are unwell.
- Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong circulatory stimulant, which can help rid the body of toxins and infections.
- The most well known immune boosting herb is Echinacea, which can help enhance and modulate the immune system, prevent upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold. Ensure your Echinacea is from a good source. It should tingle in the mouth and on the tongue when you take it, if it doesn’t, it won’t work.
- Astragalus is an immune boosting herb, containing polysaccharids, flavonoids and saponins which help support the digestive system and adrenal gland function.
- Cats Claw contains oxindole alkaloids, which can help enhance immune response and the capacity to destroy pathogens. It can also help sooth stomach infections.
Always talk to a qualified naturopath or herbalist before choosing herbs to ensure there are no contraindications and that you are taking the right herbs at a therapeutic dosage for your condition.
THE STRESS CONNECTION
It is proposed that emotional stress reduces certain aspects of cellular immune response leading to increased incidence of infection. It is essential we take care of our emotional health as well as physical health. If you need help dealing with stress in your life it is important to talk to a practitioner or someone who can help. Try to alleviate stress as much as possible by taking time out to relax and do something you enjoy every day. Take a hot magnesium salts bath (epsom salts or himalayan work too), listen to music you love, watch a comedy show, go for a run, meditate, do some pilates, have a massage or dance around the house. Whatever it is that works for you…do that.
TIPS FOR A SWIFT RECOVERY
- Rest and relax, stay warm and hydrated in order to allow the immune system the best possible chance to fight the infection swiftly and effectively
- Stay hydrated by drinking warm water with lemon and honey or if you have a fever try our Fever Zinger recipe below
- Eat nutritious soups packed with veggies, garlic, ginger, turmeric and herbs. These foods will be easier on the digestive system allowing increased energy for the immune system to fight infection
- Avoid sugar and artificial ingredients which infections love and feed off
- Steer clear of dairy foods, which can increase mucous production and inflammation in the body
- Immunity starts in the gut, so once you’ve fought an infection a multi strain probiotic can help boost the beneficial microflora
FEVER ZINGER RECIPE
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime
- 1-2 cm of freshly chopped ginger
- 1-2 cloves of garlic chopped or crushed
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or 1/4 chopped red chilli
- Add raw honey or pure maple syrup to taste
- Boiled filtered water (leave for a few minutes to cool a little)
Place all the ingredients into a large mug or bowl, add the hot water and allow to infuse for a few minutes and consume straight away. The recipe is designed to promote circulation and diaphoresis (sweating) to help rid the body of pathogens. It is packed with vitamin C, antibiotic, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.