We know that for our cars to run effectively and efficiently they need certain things from us, their operators: fuel in the tank for energy, water in the radiator for temperature regulation, oil in the engine to act as a lubricant and the ‘brain’, the electronic control unit, must have updated software and secure connections. Without any one of these the car will either limp along until it can go no further or refuse to start in the first place.
It’s the same with our bodies.
You may have read our blog last week on digestive health and how the gut is a vital part of the smooth running of our bodies. We can say the same of our immune system. Without the right nourishment, it can’t function effectively and won’t be able to deliver the level of protection we need from it.
To boost the immune system there’s so much we can easily do:
Eat well, drink well
Eat as healthily as you can, the majority of the time. This isn’t about denying yourself a slice of cake when you want one but being smarter about nutrition. What changes can you easily make? Well, how about swapping cooked vegetables for lightly steamed or raw ones. Instead of reaching for the carton of supermarket juice, make your own juice or smoothie. Add a wheatgrass shot for a super-powered boost. The king the superfoods, it contains particularly high levels of vitamins A and E, 92 minerals (out of the 102 we need), 21 amino acids (out of a possible 24) and over 80 enzymes.
Look for immunity-boosting foods that contain high levels of vitamins A, C, and E, as they all increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies. Instead of boring old lettuce, pep up your salads and stir-fries with kale, or try juicing it for a shot of goodness. Eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, as we talked about in our performance & energy blog.
Vitamins A, C, and E all help the body produce T-cells which produce antibodies that destroy cold bacteria. Citrus fruit, strawberries, broccoli, peppers and Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C. Sunflower seeds and almonds are high in vitamin E. Make your infection-fighting white blood cells happy by boosting your zinc intake with turkey, lamb, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, nuts, wheatgerm and spinach.
Garlic strengthens the immune system and helps to fight chest infections, coughs and congestion. High levels of iodine also make it an effective treatment for hyperthyroid conditions. Selenium, found in egg yolks and white meat, helps white blood cells fight off bacteria.
Finally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you’re dehydrated, your body is already under stress and your immune system is weakened. Keep that radiator topped up and the fuel gauge healthy and you’ll keep your health on the right road.
No one wants to seem unfriendly but the workplace is a breeding ground for colds and other viruses. Office air conditioning units are serial offenders. We know that some viruses and bacteria are airborne whilst others are spread by one-to-one contact. Much of this contact is unavoidable so by knowing you’re boosting your immune system on a daily basis you can ensure it’s in a strong position to fight off these aggressors.
Taking regular breaks to get fresh air and eat a nutrient-rich lunch will help strengthen the immune system too.
Negative stress = weakened immune system.
In 2012, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh asked 276 healthy volunteers about the stresses in their lives, and then deposited cold viruses in their noses. Those who reported chronic stress (particularly personal difficulties with friends or family) were more than twice as likely to become ill.
Managing stress levels can be difficult but small changes can have a big effect. Write down, then cross out, the stresses that you have no control over. Get plenty of good quality sleep: the immune system can only thrive when we’re well rested.
…and keep moving
Exercise has a huge number of health benefits. Your heart and lungs grow stronger and increase the rate at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The distribution of oxygen to the rest of your body then improves. The immune system is no different: like a muscle, it gets stronger the more you use it. The stronger your body and the cells within it, the more resistant your immune system becomes.
Here's to happy, healthy immune systems.
We’ve made it easy to have a healthy immune system with our delicious superfood juices.