Feeling run down? Having good gut health can help boost your immunity, which is comforting to know when you are feeling under the weather with colds and flu, sniffles and sneezes.
So, what is the immune system? The immune system is the body’s defence against infections, disease, viruses 🦠, bacteria and more. It attacks germs and helps keep us healthy. It is a complex system comprising of many types of cells, organs, tissue and proteins spread throughout the body. It is like an orchestra with every instrument and musician performing at its best.
Apart from taking regular exercise, reducing stress, sleeping well, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking, eating a rainbow coloured diet can help your body get all the nutrients it needs to function normally.
Red, yellow and orange foods tend to have a lot of vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients. So citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries. Vitamin C may help shorten the severity and duration of colds.
Blue, Indigo and Violet foods such as blueberries, dried figs, dried prunes and dates are high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin B folate.
Green leafy vegetables contain vitamin D helping the immune system and the cruciferous vegetable group – Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, magnesium, folate, phytonutrients and carotenoids.
Natural yogurts are full of probiotics that are great for gut health and they can also help our immune response. Probiotics are proven to help with elevating our immune system. Other sources of probiotics included fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
Garlic is one of the oldest remedies across many cultures to help the immune system.
A varied, healthy balanced diet is key in order to support our immune system. Stay hydrated with water in order to flush out waste.
There has been a lot of chatter on social media regarding the effects of vitamin C and D being able to help with treatment of COVID-19. Researchers are still studying the effects of high dosage of vitamin C and D on the new coronavirus so to date there is no evidence to back these claims.
Vitamin D is produced in your body naturally when your body is directly exposed to sunlight. For this reason, it is sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin”. It can also be found in limited food sources such as salmon, shrimp, sardines, canned tuna, cod liver oil, mushrooms and egg yolk, or as a fortified food, or as a supplement.
Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon.
One of the most important functions of Vitamin D is to regulate the absorption of calcium & phosphorus, help boost the immune system, and for growth and development of bones and teeth. Long term studies and ongoing studies have shown it can reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. It may also protect against respiratory infections in general.
Midday is the best time to get vitamin D as the sun is at its highest point and your body will require less time in the sunlight to manufacture it. 15 minutes should do it! However, if you have dark skin you will need more time in the sun due to your melanin pigment designed to act as a sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen after you’ve soaked up the sunshine vitamin to help prevent sunburn and skin cancer.
If you don’t spend much time soaking up the sunlight and rarely eat fatty fish then you should consider taking a supplement or including fortified foods and dairy products.
Research has shown that vitamin D may help regulate our mood and ward off depression and anxiety. I certainly feel so much better when I see a blue sky and feel the warmth of the sun on my body.
Whilst no specific food or supplement will stop you catching COVID-19, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep stress under control, sleep well and exercise in order to best protect your body and support your immune system to do its job.
Across the world many of us are practicing social distancing and staying at home during lockdown periods. Motivation may be low and many of us have increased levels of anxiety. Keep aiming for a healthy lifestyle and use this time to form new healthy habits.
Remember, your health is your wealth and you are your most important asset.