Ruth Sharif, one of our amazing customers and a nutitional therapist, has given us some guidance on ways to strengthen our immunity.
Getting enough rest, trying to limit stress, and targeted nutritional support are all ways to boost our immune systems, which is particuarly important during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
* First and foremost sharpen up your food intake: a wholefood diet avoiding sugar, processed or refined foods and packed full of nutrient dense vegetables and fruit with good levels of fibre, protein and beneficial fats.
* Sugar (including sugary drinks and alcohol) can dampen our immune response.
* Increase key immune boosting nutrients with anti-viral properties like zinc, vitamins C, D and A (supports mucosal health which is our first line of defence), beta-glucans^ and elderberry.
* Many of us are likely to be low in vitamin D stores at this time of year so consider a well absorbed vitamin D3 supplement (starting adult dose around 2,000IU but optimise your dose if you can with a vitamin D test). Vitamin D has been shown in numerous studies to be critical for our immune response and to have anti-viral properties. Food sources high in vitamin D include fish, egg and cheese.
* Take a high dose vitamin C supplement. Use a powdered or liposomal form if you can and ideally spread throughout the day. Aim for 2,000-3,000mg per day. Good food sources of Vitamin C include peppers, kiwi, citrus fruit, berries, broccoli and spinach.
* Ensure an optimal zinc status which is crucial for development of immune cells. Zinc stores can be rapidly depleted at times of stress. Consider a supplement (20mg/day) and increase zinc-rich foods like fish, nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds).
* Support gut health; the seat of our immunity, by increasing:
* Prebiotics: fuel for our beneficial gut bacteria. Eat plenty of fibre as well as onion, garlic, leeks, artichokes and vegetables generally.
* Probiotics: the beneficial, good type of gut bacteria. Probiotics are found in kefir, live plain yoghurt, and fermented vegetables. In addition, consider a multiple strain probiotic supplement– and take every day for a month at least.
* Don’t underestimate the power of sleep as our time to restore and repair. We are more likely to succumb to illness if sleep deprived and lack of sleep can affect how fast we recover if we do get sick. If you can, use the weekend to catch up on sleep, remember your sleep hygiene and remember the hours of sleep we get before midnight are the most beneficial! Aim for 7/8 hours per night.
* If you do become ill, as at least some of us will, continue to take the supplements, including boosting your dose of vitamin C, and above all…don’t be a hero – take your rest very seriously!!
^soluble fibre ( in oats/some mushrooms) with immune boosting properties. These are often found in immune boosting supplements.