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Your immune system defends you against viruses, as well as bacteria, environmental toxins, and pollution. With COVID-19 declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, it’s more important than ever to look after your immunity. Below our Resident Nutritionist, Steph Lowe, provides her best seven practical tips for supporting healthy immune function to help you decrease your susceptibility to illness and thrive. Take care and share.
- Eat a whole food diet rich in vitamin C from berries, citrus fruits and vegetables, including kale and capsicum. Vitamin C helps to support the production, health and function of immune cells and strengthens your skin and mucosa (your frontlines in your fight against infections).
- Support your gut, which houses more than 80% of your immune system, with probiotic-rich foods such as fermented vegetables (e.g. sauerkraut or kimchi) and yoghurts with live cultures.
- Take extra vitamin C, especially if you’re busy and stressed, exposed to pollution and unwell people or travel frequently.
- Add raw garlic to your plate as it’s one of the best natural antimicrobials there is. Simply finely dice garlic and combine it with olive oil plus apple cider vinegar for a nourishing yet powerful dressing with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral benefits.
- Use unfiltered and unpasteurised apple cider vinegar. It’s packed with beneficial bacteria and enzymes to further support your microbiome, and it shifts your internal environment away from excess acidity, which research has shown may impair healthy immune responses.
- Breathe. A stressed nervous system will suppress your immune system and increase your susceptibility to viruses. Take three to five deep belly breaths whenever you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed and your body will switch back to a more supportive ‘rest and digest’ state.
- Get an early night. An abundance of research shows how important sleep is for your overall health, including your immunity. Sleep helps to sustain the function of your immune system through a variety of mechanisms, including helping T cells in your body to fight off infection. Aim for 7.5‒8 hours as often as possible.