Your immune system is your body’s best defence against bugs and viruses, so our team of Expert Nutritionists have pulled together some of their top tips and golden rules to help keep you fighting fit from the inside out:
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep, or quality sleep, are more likely to fall ill after being exposed to bugs and viruses like the common cold. Lack of sleep can also impact recovery time from illness. So, why do we need sleep? While we sleep our body gets to work in a number of different ways, one of them being producing and releasing important proteins (cytokines) that help fight inflammation and infection - so less sleep means less of these infection fighting heroes. If you struggle with sleeping through the night, a 20-minute nap (within 7 hours of waking up) is a great way to get some extra Zzz’s. Taking a magnesium rich supplement before bed can also aid more restful sleep.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables you want to ensure you’re eating a variety of colours- the colour tends to denote the vitamin composition of the fruit/veg in question so the more colours you consume the more nutritional variety you’re getting. There are some foods that have particularly high levels of some key nutrients that help support your immune system:
-Citrus Fruits are renowned for being high in Vitamin C
-Red Bell Peppers gram for gram actually have higher levels of Vitamin C than citrus fruits
-Broccoli is packed with Vitamins A, C and E as well as antioxidants and fibre
-Garlic has a high concentration of compounds that contain sulfur such as allicin that boost your immune system
-Spinach is packed with Vitamin C as well as a whole host of antioxidants
- Kiwi’s are full of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate and potassium
-Legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy & eggs - rich in Zinc. An important mineral for immune health.
Whilst low levels of occasional stress are essential for your body to prepare for challenges and stay healthy. Ongoing daily excessive stress can put strain on your body and it's crucial defences: your immune system. When we experience stress our body releases the hormone cortisol into our system temporarily reduces the ability of our immune system to fight off infection.
To counter this ensure you’re taking some time to relax and unwind; meditation, reading or even a relaxing bath are all great ways to try and reduce stress levels. Adaptogenic herbs have gained popularity over recent years to help manage stress, you can try adaptogenic teas like passion flower and lemon balm or try a supplement that includes ashwagandha or rhodiola to help reduce cortisol levels.
Moderate The Booze
Research has demonstrated that excess intake of alcohol hampers your immune system: Alcohol impacts your digestive system as it disturbs the microbiome of your gut. By disturbing this delicate balance of gut bacteria it affects the way in which good gut microbes interact with your immune system, leaving your immune system weakened.
Now we’re not saying go tea-total, but be sure to limit the booze if you’re looking to support your immune system and stave of bugs and viruses.
Supplement Your System
Whilst food should be your focus for getting your nutrition, it’s not always possible to get everything you need from food alone. When it comes to supplements, don’t forget to check the dosage and make sure you remember to take them daily. Here are our 5 key nutrients to look out for in your supplements to know you are supporting your immune health:
Vitamin C is the most well known of immune-supporting nutrients but there are others that we can also up our intake of to support immunity:
Zinc is an important mineral as it helps to keep your immune system strong and fight infection.
The NHS recommends that everyone take a Vitamin D supplement during the winter months. Deficiency of this vitamin has been associated with an increase in the susceptibility to infection - if you’re staying inside it’d be a good idea to add a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine.
Vitamin B6 is also important for immunity, it supports all those biochemical reactions in your immune system.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight infection.
By adding a high-quality multinutrient supplement to your daily routine, as well as boosting antioxidant levels you can help support your immune system and hopefully help yourself feel your best.
To help simplify supplement shopping we've combined two of our best-selling supplement kits to create The Immunity & Defence Bundle. It includes 7-days of Clean Me (packed with Zinc, Choline, Selenium and Copper as well as superfoods like artichoke and wheat grass) and 7-days of GP Gold (containing Omega 3, super anti-inflammatory Turmeric, our GP Multinutrient and a whole host of red superfoods, medicinal mushrooms and pea protein).