Expert Tips To Boost Immunity & Improve Wellbeing

Looking after your immune system has never been more important, but other than getting a good night’s sleep and taking your vitamin C how do you do that? We went to some of the wellness industry’s top experts to find out.

Get Sweaty

“There is very compelling evidence linking regular exercise with good immune and metabolic health, both very important as we battle the Covid pandemic and influenza season. Exercise works in a number of ways. Firstly, it increases blood and lymph flow, which means immune cells move around the body at a higher rate after exercise and it also recruits highly specialised cells called natural killer cells to find potential pathogens and attack them. Natural killer cells are also vital for protecting against cancer so it’s a double benefit for exercise. Exercise also helps to drive down cortisol, the stress hormone. Reduced cortisol results in reduced systemic (whole body) inflammation and this consequently improves immune function.” – Dr Johanna Ward, GP and cosmetic doctor  

Stop Counting Calories

“The old adage of ‘you are what you eat’ is entirely true. Not every calorie is created equal – 250 calories from a bag of crisps and 250 calories from an avocado might be technically the same, but they provide very different nutrition. An avocado is full of easily digested, healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals crucial for a healthy immune system, while crisps are loaded with saturated fats and salt. Your body performs better overall when it receives good fuel from diverse food groups with a focus on fresh and unprocessed foods; this is also true specifically for your immune system, which has very specific vitamin and mineral requirements to perform at its best.” – Edward Jones, neuroscientists and founder of Dr. Ed CBD

Get Plenty Of Sleep

“Sleep is one of the body’s great restorative activities and good sleep is hugely important to immune function. Studies have shown sleep deprivation can make you much more prone to illness. Sleep deprivation can make even a flu jab less effective, such is its power. Sleep seems particularly linked to good ‘T cell’ immune activity. T cells are a type of white blood cell, part of the body’s first line of defence against toxins, viruses and bacteria.” – Johanna 

Stock Up On Fermented Food

“Your gastrointestinal tract is where 70% of your immune system lies, meaning your gut and immunity are inextricably linked. One of the simplest ways to promote microbial diversity and bolster our immune health is by including more fermented foods they are naturally rich in probiotic bacteria. Lacto-fermented foods, in particular, are great for gut health as they help improve the bioavailability of nutrients, meaning we are better able to absorb and assimilate the goodness from our food. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir and tempeh are all delicious examples of fermented foods, and they’re easy to integrate into the diet.” – Carla Oates, founder of The Beauty Chef

Consume Foods High In Arginine

“Arginine is an amino acid (a building block of protein), which is required to help synthesise nitric oxide. Nitric oxide works with immune cells to attack unwanted pathogens and viruses. Foods containing arginine include bone broth, turkey, chicken, chickpeas, lentils and milk. Nuts and seeds also provide arginine – try adding Linwoods Milled Flaxseed to your morning smoothie, yoghurt bowl or porridge.” – Jenna Hope, nutritionist and Linwoods Health Foods ambassador

Studies have shown sleep deprivation can make you more prone to illness. Sleep deprivation can even make a flu jab less effective, such is its power.
Dr Johanna Ward

Have A Cup Of Tea

“Whether it’s black, white, green or herbal, all teas are powerful when it comes to protecting the immune system. Tea contains polyphenols in the form of flavonoids. Flavonoids are chemicals which help modulate the inflammatory response produced by the immune system, and they’re also a source of antioxidants. Where possible, mix up your choice of tea to ensure you’re getting a good variety of flavonoids.” – Jenna 

Know The Sleep-Gut Connection

“If the majority of your immune system lives in the gut, it could be worth paying attention to the quality of your sleep, too, as recent studies have shown interruptions to the sleep cycle may disrupt the body’s ability to maintain a healthy microbiome. Conversely, the beneficial bacteria in your gut can boost your body’s supply of melatonin, the hormone responsible for maintaining your sleep cycles. Melatonin also has a protective effect on stress-induced lesions in the gut, so maintaining a healthy sleep pattern is essential for optimal immunity.” – Carla 

Go Seasonal

“Eating plenty of seasonal, organic veggies is crucial for a healthy immune system. Eating organic reduces the toxic load and is richer in nutrients. Vitamins C, D and quercetin are nutrients you should aim to eat more of during the winter as they will feed your immune system. In season in November are apples, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, kale, leeks, onions, pears, pumpkin, swede and watercress. Among vegetables and fruits, quercetin is highest in onions.” – Margo Marrone, co-founder of The Organic Pharmacy 

Eat More Oysters

“Oysters are the richest source of dietary zinc, a mineral which is involved in immune function and production of white blood cells. Spruce up your diet this winter and treat yourself by adding in some oysters – your immune system will thank you. If you are a plant-based eater, you’ll find zinc in foods such as beans, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashew nuts and oats.” – Yasmin Alexander, nutritionist 

Have Sex, Or Sing

“This may sound strange, but both making love and singing have been proven to benefit the immune system. Regularly singing raises blood levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) — an antibody that provides one of your first lines of defence against invading viruses, research shows. Meanwhile, lovemaking also revs up your immune system. According to research having sex once a week increases levels of infection-fighting antibodies in saliva by 30%.” – Tenna Anette, detox and raw food expert and co-founder of Purearth

Having sex can benefit the immune system. Research shows having sex once a week increases levels of infection-fighting antibodies by 30%.
Tenna Anette

Look On The Bright Side

“This undoubtedly has its challenges now, but research shows that summoning up positive feelings will trigger a temporary boost in your immunity. It can be as simple as chatting to a friend or going for a run.” – Tenna 

Up Your Vitamin D

“Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for the immune system and one most of us are deficient in because we don’t get enough sunshine. Emerging evidence suggests those who have optimised levels of vitamin D suffer less with Covid. Vitamin D supplementation is a cheap and effective health intervention – you can get your levels checked with your GP and then supplement accordingly. If you can’t get a test, it’s pretty safe to assume you’ll be on the low side in the winter months if you live in the UK.” – Johanna 

Try To Stress Less

“Stress is associated with high levels of circulating cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol plays a critical role in the body in glucose metabolism and suppresses the immune system. If you’re constantly stressed and your cortisol levels are consistently high, your body will struggle to identify viruses and bacteria and mount an effective response to protect you – it’s like having a sleeping guard on duty. Remember stress comes in many forms and small amounts of stress can be useful, but long-term stress, whether from your job or personal life, has direct negative effects on your body and mood.” – Edward 

Stay Hydrated

“The immune system requires key nutrients from our bloodstream to function at its best. Since blood consists of plasma which is made up of over 90% water, staying well hydrated helps transport our nutrients around the body. Sip fluids to keep you hydrated – hot water, lemon and steeped fresh ginger teas will soothe scratchy throats; add a dash of raw manuka honey for added antibacterial benefits. Hot soups and bone broths will also keep you hydrated.” – Angelique Panagos, nutritionist 

Run A Bath

“Having a warm bath is scientifically proven to reduce stress and boost the immune system. The hot water dilates the blood vessels and as a result boosts circulation, blood and oxygen flow that boosts immunity and reduces stress. An Epsom salt bath is full of magnesium so acts as a great stress reliever – try adding some jasmine oil, which contains indole, a calming molecule that helps relieve anxiety. If having a bath every evening isn't feasible, at the very least try to have one when you’re feeling particularly stressed and run down – the results really are magical.” – Margo 

 
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