There are so many ways to support the Immune System, and given our current state of affairs worldwide, I thought it would be helpful to put some of my top tips here in one spot for you.
Please keep in mind there is no ONE magical food, herb or supplement when it comes to supporting the Immune System. Rather it is a series of lifestyle and dietary choices that will be support you and your overall health and resilience to viruses and chronic disease. If we are not practicing the fundamentals of healthy living, the potential for getting sick and/or developing dis-ease in the body will increase.
So many of the below ideas are habits you can incorporate daily to support your immune system throughout the year.
1: Get out in the sunshine daily:
Sunshine not only helps the body produce vitamin D, it also helps regulate our circadian rhythm and calms the nervous system which helps keep the immune system strong.
2: Reduce your stress:
When we are stressed (stress can take many forms) the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced which makes us more susceptible to infections. Anything you can do to reduce stress and relax the body is helpful to support the immune system. See my blogpost here for ways to reduce stress.
3: Exercise – but not too much!
Daily exercise relieves stress and increases the circulation of the lymphatic system which assists the body in the rapid elimination of toxins, including viruses and bacteria. Please note, the harder you exercise if you aren’t feeling 100% can suppress the immune system. Instead, practice gentle forms of movement like yoga, Pilates and walking in nature.
4: Make sleep a PRIORITY.
I cannot re-iterate this enough! The body needs sleep in order to repair itself. It must rest, restore, heal, repair and detoxify. This is extremely important for all areas of health, not just the Immune System. If you struggle with sleep, please reach out for some tips and practices to help you improve this critical component to your overall health and wellbeing.
5: Reduce your sugar intake.
Sugar causes inflammation and weakens the immune system it robs the body of important nutrients.
Choose whole fruits over sugar laden sweets. And there are so many “healthy” treats that can be made using wholefoods and small amounts of natural sugar forms. Ditch the processed sugar, I promise you your body will thank you for it. See some of my healthy treat recipes here.
6: Stay hydrated.
Water is THE most important “nutrient” in the body because it helps transport other nutrients and hormones into the cells, regulates body temperature, improves oxygen delivery to the cells and so many other important elements in the body. A good rule to follow is to drink 2 litres of pure clean water every day. Keep in mind that alcohol, coffee and caffeine and sugar laden drinks do not count as water or hydration for the body. The centre of the immune system lies in the gut, so you need to keep it as healthy as possible to keep your immune system strong. Chlorine is added as a disinfectant to most drinking water. This can damage the good bacteria in the gut, making you more susceptible to inflammation, allergies, autoimmune conditions and poor hormone health.
7: Drink bone broth daily.
Homemade chicken bone broth contains a wealth of nutrients and is imperative for good gut health and helps strengthen the immune system, its also known for its antiviral properties. I recommend drinking a cup a day along with some Celtic sea salt (NOT table salt). You could also add some turmeric for even more healing benefits.
8: Remove processed foods from your diet.
To put it bluntly, processed foods weaken the immune system and lead to a host of other health issues and chronic disease. So, it is best to stick to real foods, WHOLEFOODS.
Here is a quick list of nutrient-dense real wholefoods:
Fruits and vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Pastured, organic meats and chicken
Wild seafood and sea vegetables, esp. wild caught salmon
Healthy fats like ghee, organic grass-fed butter, coconut oil and olive oil
Homemade bone broth or vegetable stock
Raw and/or cultured dairy such as yoghurt, kefir
Natural sweeteners like raw honey and organic maple syrup
Grains – BUT only if you can tolerate them. If you need help working out whether you can tolerate and consume grains, please reach out.
9: Eat probiotic-rich and prebiotic-rich foods.
Over 85% of your immune system is in your gut, so it’s extremely important to keep the gut healthy. One way to do this is by consuming probiotic and prebiotic rich foods daily. These foods include fermented vegetables, organic natural (no sugars added) yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, tempeh and olives. Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, dandelion greens, oats (whole oats, not the instant variety), apples, cocoa, flaxseeds, and seaweed.
10: Cook with healthy saturated fats.
Unprocessed, saturated fats are essential for energy, hormone production and health, a healthy immune system and many other important functions. These fats include ghee, organic butter (butter can help strengthen the immune system, suppress inflammation, and is a great source of iodine), coconut oil (contains antiviral and antimicrobial properties which ate great for keeping the immune system strong), and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.
11: Take Epsom salt baths.
When we are stressed, and being sick is a stressor in the body, the first mineral the body burns through is magnesium. And unfortunately, we are mostly already deficient in this critical mineral due to diets high in processed foods, and even if we are consuming fruits and veggies our soils are typically deficient in magnesium due to our conventional farming practices in modern society.
So, replenishing the body with magnesium and sulphate via an Epsom salt bath can be very helpful. It also has the added benefit of forcing you to slow down and relax. All you need to do is add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath and soak for at least 20-30 minutes. I like to also add some drops of essential oils like lavender to help relax the body even further.
12: Eat vitamin A rich foods.
Vitamin a (AKA retinol) plays a vital role in immunity, so it’s a great nutrient to consume daily. Foods such as: Organic eggs, cultured dairy, grass fed meats, wild salmon and organic butter are all good options. Vitamin A is also amazing for anti-ageing benefits.
13: Go outside and get fresh air daily!
Fresh air can reduce the stress response in the body and support the immune system. Practice some deep breathing too whilst getting the fresh air.
14: Eat cooked leafy greens.
Leafy greens such as kale (stems removed), swiss chard, and collards are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are all supportive of the immune system.