The New Year marks a fresh start, a time in which we create resolutions and health goals. Some of the most popular new year resolutions are about weight loss, going to the gym or being more active, to stop eating junk food or eat more healthily, to stop drinking alcohol or smoking and so forth but this year a new health and wellness goal has come to the attention of many people in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020 was a very difficult year for all of us and we are all hoping the pandemic will come to a close as soon as possible so we can all get back to our normal lives and freedoms. Many of us would love to meet some friends for drinks at the pub, go for Sunday lunch at a relative's house or simply have get-togethers and enjoy the social aspects of life. We are still fighting against COVID-19 and will continue to do so over the coming months but the good news is that you can do a lot for yourself to protect your body and strengthen your immune system to fend off viruses such as COVID 19 over the winter months and throughout the year.
So read on to find out my top 5 nutrition and lifestyle tips to strengthen your immune system in 2021:
1. Make sure you take a quality vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is well known for being important to bone health, but it actually also helps with the absorption of Calcium. The role of vitamin D on immunity has been mentioned a lot this year as we continue to fight COVID-19. The reason why Vitamin D is super important for immunity is because it can help balance innate and adaptive immune responses. Vitamin D promotes immune response as it has immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, vitamin D is involved in the activation of the T cells and macrophages of the immune system. T cells are key players in the immune response to viral infection. Foods naturally containing Vitamin D are egg yolks and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel etc.
The most effective way to get enough vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunshine in the summer months, of course taking care of the harmful UV rays. Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin when there is sunshine. We do not get enough sunlight during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, so taking a quality supplement of at least 10 mcg each day should give you the recommended intake to support immunity.
2. Eat Mushrooms
Apart from being delicious, mushrooms have shown positive results in the production and use of T cells, B cells, antibodies, macrophages, and cytokines and as a result, they may help to fight off infection. Mushrooms contain Beta Glucans- polysaccharides that can help build and maintain the structure of your cells, which in turn can help fight against pathogens and support your immune response. Any mushroom variety is great for immunity but Shiitake, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Chaga, Maitake, Cordyceps and Lions Mane are truly amazing for immunity.
3. Eat the rainbow
Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in our gut? A lot of people are not aware that what they eat is directly affecting their health, be it in a positive or negative way. Eating a wide variety of colourful vegetables, fruits, and legumes will certainly increase the diversity in your microbiome, whilst increasing nutrient intake to support the immune system. As an example, green fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense and are packed with goodness. Kiwis for example contain high amounts of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Spinach and kale contain folate and calcium, as well as Vitamin A, C, and E. Orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, which convert to vitamin A. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, beets, red grapes and red cabbage are packed with anthocyanins, a polyphenol which is anti-inflammatory, helps decrease heart disease and also helps regulate blood sugar.
4. Don’t forget Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an amazing ally for strengthening your immune system and is an extremely powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system, like in the case of vitamin D. In other words, Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells which help protect the body against infection. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes but also cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.
5. Move every day
Exercise is an amazing way to boost mood, keep your heart healthy and maintain a healthy weight, as well as to maintain healthy and happy bones. Exercise is also essential to boost immunity as it helps increase the number of natural killer cells and T cells, which in turn help fight off viruses and bacteria in your body. Exercise can also help reduce inflammation in the body which may lead to a stronger immune system. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
Get in touch!
We could work together to help you achieve your health and wellness goals and begin 2021 the right way. Get in touch and I could create a personalised Nutrition & Wellness plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. Drop me an email or a text to arrange a FREE 15 minute call to discuss your health and wellness goals!
Happy New Year!
Karina Smith-Reyes Dip NT CNM, Dip HC CNM, BANT, CNCH