Top 10 tips to improve your immune system

Top 10 tips to improve your immune system

This is the burning question I get asked all throughout the winter...

Top 10 tips to improve your immune system

This is the burning question I get asked all throughout the winter, therefore I have decided to share my top 10 with you:

- Probiotics. Your gut is lined with trillions of ’friendly’ bacteria called microflora and is responsible for 70% of your bodies immune system. Antibiotics, painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, and indigestion tablets will either destroy the bacteria or damage the intestinal wall, making it porous and ’leaky’. Take a supplement daily from a reputable company such as Biocare, Solgar or Nutri, ensuring you have about 1-7 billion a day. Don’t be fooled by brand yoghurts that promise to contain friendly bacteria when they are really only full of sugar. If you don’t want to take supplements, you could repopulate your gut with products such as kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut which ferment, producing beneficial flora, and are delicious!

- Beta-glucans. These are naturally found in the cell walls of many plants. These work by kickstarting the cells that attack bacteria etc and have been proven to reduce tumour growth and prevent new cancer cells forming. Beta glucans also have good evidence for use in insulin resistance and high cholesterol due to their antioxidant function as a fibre from oats, barley and mushrooms. Mushrooms such as Reishi, Shitaki and Maitake are amongst some of the medicinal variety that have a strong immunomodulatory effect on the body, but even your common button mushroom eaten daily has been proved to activate the cells that kill disease.

- Omega 3 fatty acid’s. These can be found in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and herring, it can also be found in flaxseed or chia seeds for vegetarians. Aim to eat 3-4 portions of fish a week and/or a tbsp of ground flaxseed and chia seed a day. These greatly reduce inflammation in the body.

- Garlic. During the First World War raw garlic juice was used as an antiseptic bathing wounds and helped to save thousands of lives. It’s antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties have been known to be a great preventative of coughs, cold and chest infections during the winter. Garlic works by making the cells of the immune system more active, contributing to the ability of the body to fight infections. It is also a prebiotic which encourages your gut to produce extra friendly bacteria.

- Ginger. A strong antioxidant, ginger is also anti inflammatory, antibiotic and can be used externally for an antiseptic and pain. The extract has been known to kill cancer cells. It is also known to combat chills and fevers.

- Curcumin. From turmeric, this yellow substance is a powerful anti inflammatory and antioxidant. It can help boost cell health by improving the behaviour of the membranes. They help improve the ’orderliness’ of cell membranes, which in turn make the cells more resistant to infection and malignancy.

- Vitamin C and Zinc. Taken together, vitamin C and zinc have been proved to shorten a cold or flu virus if taken at the earliest onset. Aim for 1000mg of Vitamin C and 15mg of zinc, a day at the start of a cold and throughout.

- Belly laughs. Having a good old chuckle has been known to decrease stress hormones and improve the body’s infection-fighting abilities and overall resistance to disease.

- Echinacea. This herb was used in traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes in the US. It was mainly used as an antibiotic until the western antibiotics were invented and then forgotten about until recently. Echinacea is now widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold, the flu, and other upper respiratory infections. Some people take echinacea at the first sign of a cold, hoping they will be able to keep the cold from developing. Other people take echinacea after cold symptoms have started, hoping they can make symptoms less severe.

For an immune boosting kick at the onset of a cold, whisk together this delicious juice:
1 Lemon (whole lemon juiced if possible or the juice)
5cm piece of root ginger (grated)
1 Clove garlic (crushed)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raw honey