With Covid-19 cases rising exponentially at the moment, there’s probably never been a more important time to invest in our health. With this in mind, we’ve put together a mini guide to help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Despite advances in medicine and science, nutritional and lifestyle interventions are still one of the most powerful ways to build and boost our immune system. There is now a wealth of research out there confirming this.
With this in mind, our aim at Complete Wellbeing Clinic, is to make you as resilient as you can be, by optimising your health naturally.
Our immune systems are constantly being challenged all day, every day, dealing with our environment, food, chemicals, stress, etc but what we eat and drink can really help support us.
Aiming to eat the most nutrient rich, WHOLEFOOD diet that you can within your likes and budget. Whole foods not only give us everything we need in terms of nutrients, they are also free from all the things we don’t want in our body, such as processed chemicals, toxins and substances that stress our body and give it more work to do, diverting it from keeping us in tip top condition!
7 Ways to boost Your Immunity Naturally Through Food and Drink
This is vital macronutrient for the immune system. Protein malnutrition is actually linked to higher death rates from infection. It increases our susceptibility to infectious diseases and, once infected, it increases the severity and duration of the disease. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, game, pulses, nuts, legumes, dairy.
Low GL carbohydrates
Low GL means low glycaemic load (GL). This refers to how much a food will raise our blood sugar levels after eating it. White, refined foods will have a much higher GL than wholegrain and this puts more pressure on the body to deal with the excess sugar. Refined products have also have their natural vitamins, minerals and fibre stripped from them which leaves them being void of much nutrition. This combined with very little fibre, also leaves us feeling hungry soon after eating, which could encourage overeating. Good sources of slow burning carbohydrates include, short grain brown rice, brown rice pasta, wild rice, sweet potatoes, oats and all vegetables.
- Good fats– every cell in the body is made from fat so we need to support at this cellular level as much as possible. Fat helps us store vitamin D which is considered protective against Covid-19. Healthy fats include oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds
- Phytonutrients– Eat the rainbow! These are nutrients found in plants that actually protect the plants and improve their resilience to toxins, radiation, pests and chemicals. The beauty is that when we eat them, we too enjoy these benefits. Phytonutrients are ant- oxidants which help protect us from free radical damage which can damage our DNA , suppress our immunity and stop our body from functioning efficiently. To ensure we get all of our main phytonutrients we need to eat the rainbow by making our plate as colourful as possible so we get as many phytonutrients as possible.
Meet the phytonutrients
- Carotenoids: found in your orange, red and yellow fruits and veggies, such as carrots, bell peppers, oranges.
- Glucosinolates: which are mostly in the brassica vegetables, Brussels, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli.
- Phytoestrogens: can mimic estrogen so can be great to balance hormones but they also boost our immune system. Food sources include organic soy products, flaxseed, nuts, legumes, broccoli, carrots, oranges, beans, whole-grains.
- Ellagic acid: found in berries, including raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, pomegranates and walnuts.
- Flavonoids: in nearly all veggies and fruit, including apples, berries, onions, grapefruit, cabbage, kale, leeks, tomatoes, ginger, lemons, carrots, buckwheat, dark chocolate (YAY!), tea.
Interestingly, scientists believe that the gut microbiome may influence our immune system response to Covid19 infection and may affect the severity and outcome. They have also found that there are distinct characteristics in the gut microbiome once the infection has been cleared, leading them to speculate that this may be contributing to the symptoms of the dreaded long Covid. It is very early days but could be a fantastic step towards an effective treatment plan for these patients.
When we consider that 80% of our immune cells are in our gut, it makes sense to really support this area. Dysbiosis is the imbalance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and signs to look for include bloating, gas, wind, cramps, constipation, heartburn, acid reflux, poor sleep, skin irritation, food intolerances, autoimmune conditions. These can be diagnosed through a simple stool test which we can arrange for you but we can also help build a stronger gut microbiome by introducing probiotic foods such as fermented foods like live yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut as well as pre biotic foods such as onions, garlic, leeks, chicory. We can also supplement with a range of pre and pro-biotics, just check they are good quality and include lots of diversity. We recommend Cytoplan Fos-a-Dophilus or Cyto-Biotic for the an excellent broad spectrum supplement. At the moment all our new clients can get 35% off their first order using our discount code. Just drop us an email if you like more information.
Extra super immunity foods to boost your system
- Shiitake mushrooms and oats which contain beta glucans to help support the white blood cells and fight infection.
- Garlic, onions and ginger all have anti microbials in them to fight nasty microbes
- Spices such as turmeric, oregano, thyme, rosemary are all anti-inflammatory.
Dehydration is on the main stressors to the body. Water helps the body carry oxygen to our cells for optimal functioning. It also helps remove toxins, preventing them building up in the body and having a negative impact on our immune system.
What to reduce or avoid
We all know them but here they are in black and white!! Processed foods, white starchy foods, excess caffeine and alcohol. These all put pressure on the body which causes inflammation and suppressing the immunity.
We use the 80/20 rules. 80% of the time good, then 20% let go! This way we never feel deprived making it much easier to stay on track!
9 Supplements to support the immune system
Much as our food is the ideal way to get our vitamins and minerals, sometimes, with today’s busy lifestyle we can struggle to get the amount our bodies actually need. This is where supplements can come in useful. As the name suggests, they are there to supplement, not replace, not replace our diet.
- Vitamin D is vital to our immune system and overall body function. There have now been many studies conducted on the benefits of taking vitamin D to protect ourselves from Covid 19. Finally, last year, the government announced guidelines, recommending 400iu which, when you consider that 20 minutes sun exposure gives us 10-20,000 iu, is simply not enough to protect our bodies. It is thought that 90% of people in the UK are vitamin D deficient during winter months which could explain SAD and increased infections. We can get our vitamin D tested for £29 at www.vitamindtest.org.uk to see where our levels are then we can boost with a great dose of vitamin D3. Always take with vitamin K2
- Vitamin C is fantastic for the immune system, supporting various cellular functions of the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C protects cells from pathogens and uses its anti-oxidant properties to potentially protect against environmental oxidative stress. A deficiency results in impaired immunity and a higher susceptibility to infections. Supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections (Carr and Maggini, 2017). These can be found in a good multi or taken separately as a time release supplement to allow for maximum absorption.
- Vitamin E is also an anti-oxidant. It has not seen many human studies but animal studies have highlighted a clear link between vitamin E deficiency and immune system impairment. Some studies have shown a positive correlation between optimal vitamin E levels and reduced risk of developing flu.
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid studies have shown that a deficiency in these vitamins can interfere with body processes, causing inflammation.
- Zinc helps maintain homeostasis of the immune system and a deficiency impacts both innate and adaptive immunity.
- Selenium is very important anti-oxidant and a good quality multi vitamin should contain sufficient levels. Alternatively eating 3 Brazil nuts a day fulfils our daily selenium requirement.
- Magnesium is a vital nutrient involved in many processes in the body. It is important to help relieve stress and calm us down which helps protect the immune system. This can be found in a good multi.
- Omega 3s are essential fatty acids and are so important to relieve inflammation, protect cells and improve our general health. Make sure to get one with good levels of EPA and DHA. I absolutely LOVE the Nutriadvanced Eskimo-3 one as it’s the only one I’ve found that does not repeat on us throughout the day- handy when trying to convince a husband and child to take! It is also one of the most researched and written about in the world- a fantastic pure, toxin free, sustainable product.
- Adaptogenic herbs stimulate the immune system indirectly, by building the body’s resistance to non-specific stresses, such as poor diet, environmental toxins, overwork and emotional factors. They also stimulate the immune system by boosting resistance to pathogens, viruses and bacteria. Some useful immunity boosting adaptogenic herbs include:
- Siberian Ginseng
Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements if you are on any medication.
Other things that can have a negative impact on the immune system include:
- Poor digestion which may prevent us from absorbing sufficient nutrients.
- Dysbiosis- poor gut bacteria preventing absorption.
- Food sensitivities- causing inflammation
- Aging- sadly makes us more susceptible to immune dysregulation
Good old stress! Well if you weren’t a stressed person before 2020, I can imagine you are now! Stress takes a huge toll on the body with cortisol suppressing and weakening the immune function over time. We need, therefore, to factor in some down time EVERY DAY. I have to really work on this as do many other people I know, feeling guilty about spending time on myself, but now, as life is once again put on hold, it may be the perfect time to re-evaluate and make new habits!
Start with just 5 minutes a day of deep breathing. There are loads of apps that do square breathing and other styles. I started adding it in to the end of my Pilates classes and now it’s become the highlight of the class! It really does work, helping reset the body, switch the stress side off and the calm side on. If you want to invest longer there are great meditation apps such as calm and headspace which offer a range of calming programmes from 10 minutes onwards.
Good sleep is also paramount. When we sleep our cells renew and repair and we release cytokines to fight infections and inflammation. Humans needs between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep a night and anything less has been proven to detrimentally affect the immune system. Many sleep deprivation studies have shown a rise in inflammation. There are many ways to improve sleep which include getting morning daylight every day, dimming lights at night and removing devices from the bedroom. If your struggle with sleep we can help get you back on track.
Movement helps boost the immune system and relieves stress. Whether it’s an online class, a walk, run, or strength training, it all helps to protect our body. Out in nature is best and doing with someone else (either a friend or PT) has been shown to improve compliance!
More than ever it’s so important to stay connected to others. Many studies have shown that having positive social support can enhance our resilience to stress, improve our self confidence, increase our happiness and improve our overall health and longevity! A good old laugh with friends and family can also be really helpful to pull us out of our funk and lift our spirits.
If you would like any further information on how we can help you then please get in touch by booking a FREE 30 minute discovery call.
We offer face to face appointments at Woburn Osteopaths and we also see clients online.
Call: 07813 871 776
Email: [email protected]