In Ancient Chinese medicine, doctors were paid to keep their patients well, and when their patients got sick they wouldn't be paid until they made them better. The thinking behind this is something we should tap into more and more, as ensuring you support your health day-to-day means your body is better equipped to deal with infection.
Your immune system is your defence mechanism against pathogens, which are infectious agents that cause disease. By consistently nourishing and supporting your immune system you can not only decrease your chance of getting sick, but help to reduce the intensity and duration of any infectious disease you may get.
Here are some nutrition and lifestyle tips you and your loved ones can follow to support your immunity and keep healthy on a daily basis.
Eat a whole food and antioxidant-rich diet
Your immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well. A well-balanced diet should include lots of colourful fruits and vegetables (high in antioxidants!), lean forms of animal protein or plant-based proteins, wholegrains, starchy fibrous carbohydrates and small amounts of healthy fats.
This is a great way to support your immune system and ensure you’re getting a good daily intake of micronutrients, such as vitamins C, D3, A and B, Zinc, and Selenium.
What foods can you get nutrients from?
- Vitamin C: citrus fruit, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, kale, broccoli, chilli, parsley, and red pepper.
- Vitamin D3: fatty fish, egg yolk, microalgae, lichen, and mushrooms.
- Omega 3: leafy green vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts) & seeds (especially flaxseeds & chia seeds), avocado, microalgae, spirulina, chlorella.
- Vitamin A: egg yolk, dark green, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits.
- Vitamins B: wholegrains, legumes, nuts & seeds, eggs, leafy green vegetables, meat, kidney, seafood, chlorella, seaweed, soy, avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
- Zinc: nuts, pumpkin seeds, meat, shellfish, oysters, fish, and eggs.
- Selenium: nuts (especially brazil nuts) and seeds, wholegrains, garlic, fish and shellfish, and eggs.
Load up on immune-supporting nutrients
There are several micronutrients that are essential for immune health, but unfortunately many of us don’t get enough of these nutrients through diet alone. This is largely down to our modern day lifestyles with factors like environmental toxins, air pollution, stress, chronic diseases, lower quality food, etc.
Supplementing on top of a well-balanced, immune-supporting diet ensures you're getting enough nutrients to reap the benefits of them. And using liposomal forms ensure they are absorbed by the body as they bypass the digestive system and get the nutrients to where they need to be.
- Vitamin C - The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. As we cannot produce Vitamin C in our bodies, supplementing with Vitamin C daily is a great way to help modulate the immune system.
- Vitamin D3 - Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and if you live in the U.K. (or other places with a cold climate), you won't be getting sufficient amounts during the winter months.
- Omega 3 - The interplay between the gut microbiota, omega-3 fatty acids, and immunity helps to maintain the intestinal wall integrity and interacts with host immune cells. Supplementing with Omega 3 daily may help strengthen your intestinal walls and in turn contribute to a healthy immune system.
Support your digestive system
Around 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, so it plays a key role in the health of your overall immune system. Poor gut health function not only affects immunity, but also your nutritional status and the levels of toxins in your body.
Gut health is dependant on the balance between good and bad bacteria. To nourish your gut microbiome, not only should you eat a healthy, whole-food based diet, but you should ensure you regularly eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. A great way of ensuring you have enough probiotics is taking a gut-supporting supplement. Learn more about Gut Biome Zooki here.
Use immune-supporting herbs and spices
Many herbs and spices have immune-supporting properties, so it's time to dig into your herbs and spices cupboard for additional support. Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices and herbs (oregano, turmeric, thyme, rosemary) to your meals regularly.
To get the most out of garlic, it's recommended to throw it in at the end of your cooking (rather than at the start) so it retains its potency.
We need adequate sleep for our body to repair and function at its best, so without it, optimal immune function is near impossible. Set yourself a regular sleep and wake time to regulate your natural circadian rhythm, and aim to get between seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
Reduce exposure to blue light from devices, such as phones, T.V. and computers in the evening, as these greatly reduce melatonin production which can then significantly affect sleep quality. You can also use a yellow light filter on most devices. Discover our 7 steps for a better night's sleep here.
Get regular exercise
Aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week, and try to do a morning stretch to improve your mental health and get your body moving.
A common misconception with exercise is that it needs to be something high intensity, but that is not the case! It should be something you enjoy and can keep up. This could be a regular brisk walk, a run, yoga, using the stairs over the lift, and doing housework.
Getting outside is also a great way to improve your Vitamin D status too, which will then further strengthen your immune system.
Reduce stress & rest
Chronic and prolonged stress has a negative effect on the immune system, so it's important to manage your stress as part of supporting your overall health.
Practices like meditation, yoga, daily journaling, doing hobbies you enjoy, listening to calming music, etc. all help to lower your stress levels. Read more about the impact of stress and what you can do about it here.
Nourish your skin
Your skin is your first line of immunity as it's a physical barrier against the outside world. If you suffer from dry skin or skin conditions that cause breaks in the skin, it's key to ensure you're nourishing your skin.
Using natural moisturisers like coconut oil, jojoba oil and olive oil and natural skin soothers like aloe vera and calendula are key. Coconut oil also has anti-microbial properties, so it's ideal for those with infection-prone skin conditions like eczema.
Vitamin C is also key in supporting your skin health, as it accumulates in the top layer of your skin to prevent environmental oxidative damage. Discover more about the benefits of Vitamin C in our Complete Guide to Vitamin C.
Supporting the actual structures of your skin - like collagen - is another way to promote better skin health. Learn more about Collagen Zooki here.
If you're interested in finding out more about YourZooki products, click here.
Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice and any changes should be done in consultation with your healthcare provider.