11 Ways To Boost Your Immune System

11 Ways To Boost Your Immune System

Washing your hands and social distancing might be the new normal, but there’s no denying maintaining a healthy immune system is key no matter the circumstances. We caught up with the experts to find out which supplements, nutrients and alternative therapies are best at protecting overall health.

Try Herbs

“There are many powerful herbs that boost immunity in a natural way. My top three for adults are echinacea, elder and reishi. Echinacea possesses strong immune-stimulating properties and works by boosting the activity of our virus-fighting ‘warrior’ white blood cells. Elder tree has long been called the ‘medicine chest’, used to prevent flu, herpes, tonsillitis and UTIs, while reishi is often referred to as the ‘mushroom of immortality’ – it contains beta-glucans, which enhances immunity and supports adrenal function. For children, liquorice, elecampane and elderberry are great options.” – Jenya Di Pierro, herbal medicine practitioner

Prioritise Zinc

“Although a deficiency in any essential nutrient can compromise immunity, zinc is considered the most important of all nutrients. It is vital for the thymus gland, the primary gland of immunity, and is required for white blood cell production. You can find it in Victoria Health’s Daily Immunity, a potent blend of medicinal herbs, zinc, and vitamins C and D3.” – Dr Shabir Daya, in-house pharmacist at Victoria Health

Exercise Wisely 

“If you have been doing too much strenuous or prolonged exercise on top of a busy schedule, this can increase your likelihood of developing an illness. Especially if you do it day after day, without recovery days – then the effects can be cumulative and immune function becomes progressively weaker. However, it’s all about finding a balance as studies show long-term moderate exercisers have the best immunity. Varying your workouts between aerobic (low- and high-intensity), strength and mobility in your weekly routine is a good place to start.” – Dr Jenna Macciochi, immunologist 

Stay Hydrated

“Hydration is an often-neglected element of immunity as the mucosal lining is your first line of defence against viruses and infections. If you don’t drink enough water, this lining can dry out and let pathogens through. For optimal hydration, take a few sips of water every 30 minutes to ensure your mouth and throat are always moist, and always drink room temperature water.” – Jenya 

Boost Your Lymph

“It’s worth giving your lymphatic system some TLC. Our lymphatic system is a network, which removes waste from the body. Plus, our lymph transports immune cells around the body, where they patrol for anything untoward. However, when the lymph is congested as a result of stress, poor digestion or a sedentary lifestyle, its ability to circulate and fight infection can be affected. A massage that focuses on lymphatic drainage is a great place to start, while contrast showers (i.e. alternating between hot and cold), deep breathing and dry skin brushing are also effective ways to stimulate the lymph.” – Jenya 

Add Spices

“Adding spices to your diet is an easy way to improve absorption of key nutrients. Fennel, cumin and basil will stimulate gastric juices, while thyme and rosemary are prized for their immune-boosting benefits. Ginger and chillies, meanwhile, will warm you up and improve circulation, whilst also bolstering the body’s defence against infections. Turmeric is also a powerful spice to keep in your cupboard – to increase its bioavailability, mix with a pinch of black pepper and fat, such as oil or milk, or add to curries.” – Jenya 

Book A Holistic Treatment

“When it comes to bolstering the immune system, IV vitamin infusions, salt therapy, colonic hydrotherapy and cryotherapy are all great ways to support health. Mindfulness can also combat stress, which weakens immunity.” – Jenya 

Think About Gut Health

“The beneficial bacteria that resides in the gut are our first line of defence, on which the immune system is highly reliant. Given our bacteria is so sensitive to what we eat, stress levels and medication such as antibiotics, it’s no wonder that it can easily become imbalanced, putting our immunity at risk. Be sure to eat plenty of sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, probiotic yoghurt and fibre, and consider taking a good probiotic too.” – Alice Mackintosh, nutritional therapist and founder of Equi London

Don’t Forget Vitamin C

“It’s true vitamin C plays a key role in immunity. But although a deficiency can lead to higher susceptibility to infections, supplementing does not reduce the risk of catching a cold. If you do catch a seasonal lurgy, vitamin C supplements of 1-2g (equivalent to 1000-2000mg) per day have several benefits, including reducing the symptoms and severity, decreasing recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Remember you can obtain your RDA easily through consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.” – Jenna 

Remember The Power of Plants

“Phytonutrients are biologically active compounds found in plants – they can protect us from infection and ward off long-term chronic disease with their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Ones to look out for are flavonoids, found in onions, apples, tea and coffee; carotenoids, found in red, dark green and orange fruit and vegetables (it’s worth noting the antioxidant effect of tomatoes is trebled when cooked with a little oil); and resveratrol, found in grapes, red wine and berries. It’s their collective power we are after – as a rule of thumb, more colourful fruit and veggies equals more phytonutrients.” – Jenna 

Pack In the Protein

“Protein is vital to your immunity, building and repairing body tissue and fighting infections. Immune-system powerhouses such as antibodies and cytokines are built from amino acids, so they rely on an adequate intake of protein. Studies have shown the immune system can be significantly compromised with even a 25% reduction in adequate protein intake. The recommended daily protein intake is 0.8g per kilogram of bodyweight, but those over the age of 65 should aim for at least 1.2g per kilo of bodyweight.” – Jenna   


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