The Immune-Boosting Health Hacks Experts Swear By

A robust immune system has never been more important, but there’s more to it than face masks and a dose of vitamin C. Here, we asked some of the UK’s leading health experts how they maintain their overall health…

Boost Your Gut Health

“Working on the microbiome to strengthen the immune system is the way forward. Consuming lots of fibre keeps healthy bacteria in the gut happy, which in turn keeps the lining of the gut healthy and reduces inflammation in the body. The greatest concentration of cells related to our immune system is in our small intestine, so make an effort to add fermented foods to your diet, such as good-quality miso soup and a small amount of good-quality pickles. A high-fibre, vegan diet will create significant differences among gut bacteria, immune system cells, and reactions to food compared to a low-fibre diet.” – Marlene Watson Tara, founder of MACROVegan and author of Go Vegan

Take A Long-Term Approach

“Caring for your immunity is for life, not just the latest pandemic. Health is complex, which means there are few quick fixes. We need to remember the overall health of our immune system is brought about by balance, not boosting. Sleep, stress, mood and movement all feed into the overall balance. Life can be fast paced and intense, with little time to pause and observe if we are overdoing it, putting more energy into exercising and worrying than we are to our recovery strategies. It's about the little things we do consistently. When it comes to diet, the best investment is consistent consumption of a diverse array of plant-based foods to nourish our microbiota and provide the anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and longevity properties of phytonutrients.” – Dr Jenna Macchiochi, immunologist 

Prioritise Sleep

“The first step when looking to optimise immune function is to ensure you get really good quality rest and balance any stressors. Poor sleep removes the opportunity for our body to adequately recover overnight, meaning we start the next day on the back foot, and higher levels of circulating stress hormones directly inhibit our immune ability. Try to carve out proper wind down time and support the quality of your rest with Motion Nutrition’s Unplug, a night-time nootropic, a unique combination of micronutrients, amino acids & Ayurvedic herbs.” – Phoebe Liebling, nutritional therapist at Motion Nutrition

Invest In A Decent Hand Sanitiser

“Minimising your risk of infection by always carrying a hand sanitiser – this is such a simple thing but can decrease your risk of catching viruses significantly. Although the best way to keep your hands sanitised is to wash them with warm water and soap, we all know it’s not always possible to have access to a sink, especially when you’re out and about. Cici Care Antimicrobial Hand Gel has a high ethanol content (70%), which makes it hospital grade approved. Find yourself a gel with an alcohol content of at least 60% to give yourself the best chance of keeping the germs away.” – Dr Mark Fellows, aesthetic doctor at Ai Beauty Clinic 

Try Tongue Scraping

“Ayurveda recommends scraping your tongue daily, which you can do with a simple copper tongue scraper. By scraping, you are removing bacteria and impurities which have built up overnight that would otherwise be left to circulate in your body and have a negative impact on your immunity. Scraping the tongue helps to further stimulate the saliva glands, which in turn are vital for proper digestion of food, which can also optimise nutrient absorption. It’s best to scrape your tongue first thing in the morning before eating and drinking or brushing your teeth.” – Claire Paphitis, The Ayurveda Coach

Focus On The Spiritual

“Keeping a daily reiki practice may help optimise immunity. Practice breathing into the hara (aka the belly – the central axis point of where universal energy lies) – to create new vibrant energy to flow throughout the body. This, in turn, will remove any stagnant energy, tension and support our bodily systems to function well. Sound healing can also help boost our immune and bodily systems and reduce cortisol levels. Sound can also improve sleep by increasing melatonin, our sleep hormone. Remember the breath is our innate healing tool that can help optimise immunity – through breath awareness and a dedicated breath practice, we can boost and sustain a healthy immune system.” – Jasmin Harsono, reiki master teacher and author of The Little Book of Self Care: Self Reiki 

Think About Vitamin D & Your Weight

“When it comes to immunity there is always a lot of talk about various foods or supplements supporting it – but in actual fact most of the science on these foods and products is weak and good immunity is related to good overall health. Having said that, a couple of interesting areas of note recently in the research are vitamin D and adiposity (fatness). Some research now shows high adiposity has a negative impact on immunity due to high levels of leptin. Adipose tissue secretes hormones from the fat cells called adipokines, and leptin is one of most interesting ones with roles in both energy metabolism and the immune system. Obesity (high levels of adipose tissue) can lead to high levels of leptin and ultimately may lead to leptin resistance affecting its ability to help moderate the immune system. In terms of vitamin D, some scientists are now suggesting people deficient in vitamin D could be more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, although this does not necessarily extrapolate to COVID-19.” – Damian Soong, co-founder of Form Nutrition

Understand The Gut-Exercise Connection

“Performing daily aerobic exercise such as walking, running and cycling brings benefits to the gut microbiota, increasing the quantity of beneficial bacteria. As 70% of our immune system is found in our gut and an increase in the diversity of our gut bacteria improves immunological function, having an exercise routine is an essential part of maintaining a strong immune system. One study looked at how exercise in women affects gut microbiota diversity and found exercising correlated with higher quantities of bacteria with health-promoting functions in females. In addition, moderate and regular physical activity supports the immune system by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies.” – Marilia Chamon, registered nutritional therapist 

Up Your Vitamin C

“Try to mix up your food shops, specifically the fruit and vegetables you buy. Fruit and veg are a great source of vitamin C – broccoli, carrots and strawberries of some of the best. It’s recommended to consume 40mg per day of vitamin C, and one portion (80g) of strawberries contains around 45mg. It’s more than possible to get enough vitamin C through your diet and aiming for five-a-day can be a great way to achieve this.” – Jenna Hope, registered nutrition consultant

Invest In Some TLC

“Massages really benefit our overall health and having regular massage therapy can help boost the immune system, flush out any nasty toxins as well as increasing the blood flow around the body. Having a massage also increases the function and movement of our white blood cells, which help fight off any nasty diseases.” – Dr. Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor 

Establish A Morning Routine

“Mindset plays such an important role in boosting immunity and starting the day in the right way will make all the difference to your level of happiness, health and productivity. Try not to rush yourself in the mornings, read a few pages of a book in bed, journal and set a positive intention for the day ahead. Make a flask (1.5 litres) of hot water with fresh ginger and lemon, and drink at least one cup before breakfast. This is a great way to kick-start the metabolism and boost the immune system. Have breakfast like a king, too – and try to incorporate some form of grains, milk substitutes, spices (cinnamon and aniseed are warming and nourishing) and cooked seasonal fruits. According to Chinese medicine, pears are particularly great for mucous membranes such as the nose and throat – keeping them moist helps protect the body from external pathogens.” – Emilia Herting, TCM practitioner and co-founder of Escapada Health

 
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 *Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.

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