With coronavirus figures soaring, is there anything you can do to boost your immune system during these uncertain times?
Yes there is! One of the most obvious places to start would be by increasing levels of vitamin C in the body. Our immune system relies heavily on vitamin C so including more vitamin C rich foods such as strawberries, blackcurrants, kiwis, oranges, lemons, broccoli, peppers and kale into your diet would be a great place to start. When the body is under stress, which can be emotional stress such as from fear of catching the virus, it releases a host of hormones to cope with it. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol in the body to help alleviate the body’s response to stress. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements found with natural bioflavonoids increase the effectiveness of ascorbic acid, research suggests they have a complementary effect together making them more effective when ingested together, something to bear in mind when looking into supplements if that is your preferred choice.
Secondly, boost your gut health. There is a complex interaction between the gut microbiota and our immune system. The immune system is a group of cells and molecules that protect us from disease by monitoring our body and responding to foreign substances they perceive as threats. The immune system and the gut microbiota have a clear correlation and regulate and support one another, this interaction is highlighted by the fact that around 70% of the cells that make up your immune system are found in the gut.
Consider taking probiotics or eating a diet rich in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi to boost your immune system. A host of beneficial microbes can be found in fermented foods, when ingested, they travel through your digestive tract to support the trillions of microbes already living in your gut. In terms of how much to take, it is better to consume little and often, a small amount daily is better than consuming a large amount once a week as you need to keep energising the microbes in your gut.
Other factors to take into consideration when boosting the immune system are having a varied diet packed full of different coloured fruit and vegetables to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients, the amount and quality of your sleep and other beneficial supplements such as fish oils and a quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement if you feel your diet is lacking in nutrients. Or consider taking bone broth, which is a superfood packed with minerals and nutrients, plenty of recipes can be found online. Anti-viral supplements such as coconut oil, raw garlic and ginger can also help to support the immune system.
If in doubt, or you’re unsure what the best options are for you, always seek professional help.