Ways to support your immune system

Daily life is in flux at the moment with the current corona virus Covid 19 spreading like wild fire around the globe. Out of the many different reactions to the situation, ranging from panic to none, feeling powerless is one of the most negative. And there’s no need to, because there are some very simple things that can be done to help support your body’s defence mechanism.

  1. Lifestyle steps: washing your hands (it really does help!), not smoking and exercise all help to protect your body and the immune system. If the sun is shining then get outside to boost your vitamin D levels. If you’re in the UK and other northern hemisphere countries, the sun isn’t strong enough until the end of March to have any real benefit, so you might want to consider supplementing. Many people are really low in vitamin D already. The government guidelines are focused on levels aimed at bone health so remain low – even then 20% of the population are deemed deficient (click here for more about the guidelines). But it’s also essential for a strong immune system and higher levels can make a difference, so it’s worth topping up after the long grey winter!
  2. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables: packed full of essential vitamins and immune supporting phytonutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotenes, fresh produce really does help support your body. Not only does it provide anti-oxidants that help support the immune system, but these also help support all areas of your body. So if you have an underlying health problem, it helps relieve the pressure your body is already under. If you can’t get out to the shops to keep stocked up on fresh produce, then look for a veg box scheme that can deliver. Alternatively, frozen berries, spinach and peas are a good option – much better than tinned.
  3. Cut down on junk food: highly processed and refined food is bereft of the helpful nutrients mentioned above and actually put more strain on the body when it wants to fight infection. Interestingly, research coming out of China noted that people with poor nutritional status had a much weakened immune system. In the Western world, food may not be scarce but many are undernourished due to the reliance of highly processed food.
  4. Eat more lentils and beans: not only are these good for gut health, they also contain minerals like iron and zinc which are key nutrients for a strong immune system. And when you don’t want to go out and about, these are easy store cupboard ingredient to have on hand. Add to soups and stews, eat as part of a salad or make tasty dips and spreads.
  5. Drink more water: keeping hydrated is important. We are on average made up of 60% water,
    so having a good intake maintains our homeostasis and stops the body over working. But don’t over-do it, otherwise you may find your essential minerals like sodium or potassium too dilute. Water also helps to flush toxins out of the body, and can soothe irritated membranes.

Of course, these may not stop you catching the virus, as no-one has immunity to this one. But by supporting your body and keeping it operating at it’s full capacity, hopefully the effects will be minimal.

There are already lots of immune supporting recipes up on my blog. Some of my favourites are:

Sweet potato and bean soup

Chickpea and spring greens soup

Beetroot hummus

Beetroot and ginger salad

Lentil and mushroom stew

I will be adding more immune boosting recipes over the next couple of weeks (as we’re in for the long haul!), so keep an eye out. Or, if you find yourself at home with time on your hands, it might be the perfecto opportunity to do my online course. The next one will be starting soon – keep an eye out for the dates. And please stay well.

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