With winter fast approaching and a myriad of viruses already out and about, everyone is looking for a way to supercharge their immunity. But boosting your immune system isn’t as simple as taking a single “immune boosting” tablet.
Why? The main reason is that the immune system isn’t just one thing that you can “top up”. It is, as the name suggests, an entire system made up of many moving parts. We also know that the body, if functioning optimally, is pretty good at regulating the immune system so that all parts of the system are working together at the right time and level.
The key here is “if the body is functioning optimally”. Like all aspects of health, in order for your immune system to work to its full potential, you need to ensure the environment around it is healthy. So rather than “boosting” your immune system, I like to look at it as “supporting”- supporting your entire body so your immune system has the best environment to function. And there are some very simple things you can do to support your immune system to give yourself the best chance to fight these winter bugs.
1. Get vaccinated
There is one proven way to increase your immunity for some viruses, such as influenza and COVID and that is to get vaccinated! We know vaccinations induce an immune response so your body’s natural defence mechanisms will recognise if it does come into contact with these viruses and protect you from severe illness.
2. Don’t smoke
There is a lot of evidence that shows smoking negatively impacts on the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infections. So, if you are a smoker, now it the time to quit. The same goes for vaping.
3. Focus on fuel
How you fuel your body is important to how it functions. Opt for nutrient dense foods - fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein. And don’t forget about the water – hydration is key to all of bodily functions. If you do struggle to get a well-balanced diet for whatever reason (underlying medical conditions, allergies, fussy toddlers etc), then supplements may play a role in ensuring you get all the vitamins and minerals you need.
4. Watch your gut
There is a lot of evidence linking gut health to immune system function. Make sure you are eating foods rich in pre and probiotics such as natural yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha and other fermented foods.
There is a lot of research to show that adequate, good quality sleep is fundamental to a healthy immune system. So, you have my permission to hit the snooze button!
Exercise isn’t just good for your waistline, it is important for all of your body’s functions, immune system included.
So, I hate to say it, there is no magic pill or quick fix that will boost your immune system this winter. Focusing on your overall health and ensuring your vaccinations are up to is key. Not only will your immune system love you for it, but your entire body will benefit.