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Bolster Your Body's Natural Defences With These Immunity Boosters

While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defences and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Sleep is a time when your body produces and distributes key immune cells, heals and regenerates. Adequate sleep is critical for a healthy immune response. In fact, inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness.

Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.

Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using an eye mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly. There are many natural ways to help you sleep like vitamins and meditation.

Don’t Smoke

Like alcohol, smoking can also affect immune health. Anything that’s a toxin can compromise your immune system. In particular, the chemicals released by cigarette smoke — carbon monoxide, nicotine, nitrogen oxides, and cadmium — can interfere with growth and function of immune cells, like cytokines, T cells, and B cells.

Eat Infection-Fighting Foods

Your body (including your immune system) runs on the fuel you put into it. That’s why eating well, along with several other good-for-you behaviours, is so important. Put simply, it’s your immune system’s job to defend your body against illness and disease. The complex system is made up of cells in your skin, blood, bone marrow, tissues, and organs that — when working the way they should — protect your body against potentially harmful pathogens.

It’s also important to know that you build a strong immune system by maintaining healthy eating habits over time. You can’t just eat four oranges at breakfast and expect to be protected that day against catching a cold.

Foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds etc are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens. The antioxidants will help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels.

Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, salmon and chia seeds, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Although low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system.

Gut health and immunity are also deeply interconnected, therefore it's advised to eat fermented foods which are rich in beneficial bacteria, called probiotics that populate your digestive tract. These foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir etc. If you don’t regularly eat fermented foods, probiotic supplements are another option.

Some Foods For The Shopping List:

  • Blueberries

  • Dark chocolate

  • Turmeric

  • Oily fish

  • Broccoli

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Spinach

  • Yogurt

  • Ginger

  • Garlic

  • Green tea

  • Watermelon

  • Kefir

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Almonds

  • Acai Berry

  • Oranges or kiwifruit

  • Red bell pepper

  • Mushrooms

  • Pomegranate Juice

Other Foods To Consider For Certain Symptoms:

Bananas and rice are known to soothe an upset stomach and curb diarrhoea. Black and green tea contain catechin, a phytochemical reported to have natural antibiotic and anti-diarrhoea effects, along with blueberries which are also high in natural aspirin, which may lower fevers and help with aches and pains.

Cranberries may help prevent bacteria from sticking to cells lining the bladder and urinary tract.

Chilli peppers, mustard and horseradish may help break up mucus in air passages and lungs, whilst onions contain phytochemicals reported to help the body clear bronchitis and other infections.

Garlic is known to reduce the incidence of the common cold by about 30%.

Supplement Wisely

Your body absorbs and uses vitamins and nutrients better when they come from a dietary source. While vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, the best way to load up on essential nutrients is to get them straight from food. Saying that, if you do choose to supplement, here is an indication of supplements which may strengthen your body’s general immune response:

Vitamin B6 - is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken and cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Vitamin B6 also is found in green vegetables and in chickpeas, which is the main ingredient in hummus.

Vitamin C - is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it. Taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day can reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children.

Vitamin D - a deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect – Sunshine also boosts vitamin D in the body, and you require approximately 30 minutes per day.

Vitamin E - is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.

Zinc - supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day can reduce the duration of a cold by 33% - although too much can be detrimental.

It's Also Worth Considering Adaptogens Or Superherbs

Adaptogens, or superherbs, are a group of herbs that support and rebalance the body, allowing us to adapt to stressors whether they are physical, environmental or emotional. They have been likened to a thermostat regulating our body, calming us down when we are too stressed and boosting our energy when we are depleted.

Herbalists use these powerful supportive herbs to help rejuvenate and support immunity and mindset. Here are a few thought to bolster immunity.