The body’s immune system is a complex system within the body comprised of different organs, cells and lines of defence against possible illnesses. It is a fundamental aspect of the body’s daily functioning and it is important we make sure we are supporting it as best as we can. There is a lot of talk at the moment about immunity and how we can enhance our body’s own natural ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.
The naturopathic approach is to enhance the self-regulating ability of the body by supporting the immune system, aiding in proper functioning and protecting against further damage. Prevention is therefore key.
See below for part one of the top tips we recommend for enhancing your immunity.
1. Eat a balanced diet high in wholefoods.
Including a wide range of wholefoods including fresh fruits and vegetables provides an easy yet effective way of increasing your daily intake of key vitamins and minerals. It also increases antioxidant intake. Antioxidants are a natural substance in fruits and vegetables known to support your immune system by protecting against free radical oxygen species and enhancing the natural cellular response against infection.
It is just as important to reduce intake of foods that may reduce the optimum functioning of your immune system. Refined carbohydrates and saturated fat are well known to be pro-inflammatory and contribute to systemic inflammation, negatively influencing the immune system. Additionally, added sugar can compromise the immune system and so it is best avoided.
The Epigenetics Wellbeing Assessment (EWA) at Global Health Clinics has a 54 point personalised immunity check, which highlights issues to work on and then provides specific foods and personalised nutritional supplementation which are of benefit to you based on individual epigenetic factors influencing your health. This is a great tool to be able to find out specifically what foods would be of direct benefit to you.
Our team are highly qualified to help you get excellent results within a few weeks, where you may trust your natural immunity system to ward off most immune threats. Click here to find out more.
2. Include Key Vitamins and Minerals to Support Your Immune System
- Vitamin C: Functions as an antioxidant reducing oxidative stress and enhances the natural immune response. Vitamin C can be found in kiwifruit, strawberries, mango, pineapple, sweet potato.
- Zinc: Functions as a co-factor in over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body and influences both the innate and acquired immune system. Zinc can be found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, oysters, sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin A: Functions in immune system modulation and supports the body’s mucous membranes, both key aspects of the immune system. Vitamin A can be found in egg yolks, carrots, fish liver oils.
- Selenium: Selenium is important as it can be found in high quantities in the spleen and lymphatic system (immune system tissues) and functions by regulating both the innate and acquired immune system. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, broccoli, alfalfa, meat and eggs.
- Essential fatty acids: Function in reducing inflammation and regulating immune cells by gene expression. Essential fatty acids can be found in avocados and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.
As mentioned before, our EWA helps to find specific foods required, however also can pick up on specific support required such as the need for antioxidants, essential fatty acids and which vitamins and minerals you may be deficient in. By having a clear picture of what you require, this removes the guessing game and allows you to focus on those most in need. However, it is important to continue to eat a wide range of foods to gain all essential vitamins and minerals.
3. Include Immune Enhancing Herbs
Many herbs have immune enhancing and regulating actions including ginger (Zingiber officinale), marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). It is important to talk to a trained Medical Herbalist before taking any medicinal herbs to avoid any potential interactions.
However, there are many culinary herbs which support the immune system and can be used in daily cooking. Include as many of the following culinary herbs to help support your immune system:
- Garlic (Allium sativum): Contains anti-bacterial properties against pathogenic bacteria.
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Contains anti-microbial properties reducing the metabolic functioning of bacteria.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Contains anti-microbial properties and a warming quality to aid in circulation, supporting the immune system.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Contains anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties all supporting the immune system.
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): Contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial properties to help support the immune system.
4. Stay Hydrated
As the body is made up of approximately 60% water, it is crucial that we consume enough water each day. Two-thirds of our bodies water resides within our cells making it essential for optimal health and overall body function. It has many important roles to play such as; aiding in digestion, lubricating joints, transporting nutrients around the body and aiding in elimination of waste products. This supports the immune system by removing any potential toxins or pathogens that may induce an immune response, resulting in you becoming sick.
The Ministry of Health recommends drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily. This equates to around 2 litres of water you should be trying to consume daily, preferably of filtered water. However, this is only a guideline and should be adjusted based on individual needs. A good tip to monitoring your hydration levels is to check the colour of your urine. Dark yellow indicates dehydration whereas a light yellow/hay colour indicates good hydration. Like everything else, there can be too much of a good thing so make sure that you have enough within reason.
In the next blog I will discuss the next steps in which you are able to use to enhance your immunity. Read part two here.