What Are You Doing to Support Your Immune Health?
While there is still so much we don’t know about the current threat to our nation’s health, it makes sense to stay vigilant and do what we can to support a robust and healthy immune system.
Our Go Vita health consultants have compiled a list of top tips for immune health and we encourage you to visit your local Go Vita for more detailed advice, specific to your own particular situation.
1. Scrub up
Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Wash them for a minimum of 20 seconds. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
2. Get more sleep
Getting enough rest and plenty of sleep is crucial. During sleep, the immune system’s fuel tank is topped up. Additionally, the natural hormone called melatonin that is released at night, not only encourages sleep, it also supports the immune system. In a study published in 2009, people who slept less than seven hours per night over a two-week period were nearly three times more likely to get sick after exposure to a cold virus than people who slept more than eight hours.
3. Add vitamin C & D
Vitamin C is probably better known and more widely used than any other supplement. Not only does it help support a healthy immune system, but it may also minimise the duration of cold symptoms if you do catch one. A review of six studies found vitamin C reduced cold incidence by 50 percent. Plus, it assists the absorption of iron, which is critical to immune health. One gram of vitamin C daily is a good dose to consider, used in conjunction with zinc. Low zinc status may increase susceptibility to viruses. Vitamin D is probably less well known but a recent study of 19,000 people showed those with low levels of vitamin D suffered more colds and flu. 2,000IU of vitamin D3 daily is our suggestion to help maintain a healthy immune system. You can also boost your levels with a 20-minute stint in the sun outside danger hours each day.
4. Take a probiotic
Besides keeping your gut in good health, probiotics can also help your immunity. Recent research has shown probiotics are helpful for strengthening the immune system and supplementing or consuming probiotic-rich foods is a useful strategy for maintaining a healthy immune system. Harvard Medical School found that intestinal bacteria bolster the immune system by feeding T-cells. With 70 percent of our immune system in our gut flora it flourishes with supplements such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
5. Move more!
Exercise can flush bacteria and waste from the body through the lungs and via sweating. This is believed to reduce the chances of developing colds and coughs. The key is exercising regularly at a moderate intensity. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that high-intensity exercise lasting for more than 90 minutes can decrease immune function for up to a day after the exercise session.
6. Chill more!
Ongoing stress has a detrimental effect on the immune system and may increase your risk of contracting infections. This is not referring to isolated incidence of stress, but to the accumulated effect of ongoing stressors such as work stress, relationship problems and grief. So surf through everyday stresses with meditation, affirmations, counselling and adrenal herbs such as Siberian ginseng and withania (also known as ashwagandha).
7. Check your protein
One of the vital roles protein plays in your body is supporting the immune system. Your immune system is made up of proteins and too little protein can weaken it. Up your protein foods including, meat, poultry and seafood as well as eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds, or add a protein shake to your daily routine, particularly if you are exercising.
8. Go herbal
Immune formula products can also be a good option as they contain a number of immune-supporting herbs such as andrographis, echinacea, astragalus, olive leaf and tulsi.
Garlic has been used for centuries for its anti-viral and anti-fungal benefits. Research also confirms that it helps support a healthy immune system. If you’re not a fan of fresh garlic, take a supplement of aged garlic extract.
9. Ditch the junk
Sugar, alcohol and processed/junk foods add very little in the way of nutrition but instead decrease white blood cell activity and contribute to a lowered immunity over time. The liver, which contains large numbers of phagocytic cells (which ingest foreign bodies in the blood including bacteria), can also be adversely affected by a poor diet. So read your food labels and eat for greater health!
10. Eat a rainbow
When it comes to supporting immune health, the more varied your fruit and veggie intake, the better. Eating a wide range of fresh produce increases your chances of receiving a variety of nutrients, especially immune-enhancing antioxidant vitamins A and C which fight the free radicals that trigger inflammation and disease in the body. And don’t forget to hydrate, water helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells and helps with the removal from toxins from the body. So drinking two litres of water daily can have a positive impact on your immune system.
11. Mask Up and Follow the Local Health Advice
It goes without saying that following the health advice in your local area is critical in constantly evolving situations like the current pandemic. More generally though keeping up with your wellbeing is always a strong foundation for good health.
Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, or are taking prescription medications, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.