Keep your immune system strong with the right nutrition

By Melanie Salisbury

BA(Hons) PgDipNT mBANT rCNHC

Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist

(Melanie is available to 1-2-1, Online appointments. Please email info@thewellgarden.co.uk for bookings).

A strong immune system is vital for our defence against unwanted pathogens such as bacteria, microbes and viruses. The immune system depends on certain nutrients to function at an optimum level. Many herbs, good bacteria and the right balance of ‘macro-nutrients’ (proteins, fats and carbohydrates that make up our daily diet) also support and stimulate immune activity.

The immune system can be very susceptible to nutrient deficiencies and the impact of stress.

In a time when we are all under stress, especially emotionally, it is even more important to ensure our nutrient levels are at their optimum. With some foods being harder to obtain over these weeks, we can only do our best.

A healthy functioning immune system is one of the most important factors in protecting ourselves. This is the time to focus on those healthy options you may have been putting off, including both daily activities and food choices.

There is certainly a lot we can all do each day. Through nutrition and lifestyle interventions we can strengthen our immune defences and keep our mind and body as healthy as we can.

*** IMPORTANT ADVICE from the WORLD HEALTH ORGINISATION (WHO) *** Make sure all food produce is washed thoroughly before consumption. Use hot soapy water to scrub all fruit and vegetables. There seems to be a low risk here in contamination but all prevention measures will contribute to lowering the rate of transmission.

Some key recommendations and food sources to consider

  • Think COLOUR! Red, orange, green, purple – peppers, carrots, cabbage, broccoli and beetroot – all densely packed with vitamins A & C, crucial in immune support and fighting infection. Include with each meal. Think mostly berries & citrus when it comes to fruit. Enjoy frozen berries if that’s what you can get hold of. Add to smoothies or cook into a compote for desert.
  • Eat the WHOLE PLANT. The bitter peels and skins, seeds, pulps and leaves are where the rich antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds lie. Keep the skins on your apples and pears. This will increase your fibre intake, integral for gut health & movement. Don’t waste the tops of your leeks or spring onions or leaves of your beetroot. Chop up finely and use in an omelet or scrambled eggs for example, or simply boil up into a broth. These parts of your fruits and vegetables are needed to maintain the strength of your immune system and help fight any infection that may come your way. This is an opportunity to make the most of the foods you buy.
  • SOUPS & STEWS. A great way to ensure an abundance of vitamins and minerals. With all this time at home it is a great opportunity to cook in larger quantities to keep you going over 2 or 3 days. No need to waste any vegetables that may not be so fresh. Boil up your leftovers and add your favourite bulk ingredients. This could be any variety of squash or root vegetable. Keep all the water you cook in as part of dish or add to your soups & stews as stock. Use generous amounts of onion, garlic and ginger for their fantastic contribution to our immune system. Celery adds a wonderful flavour and is usually found in abundance. It is rich in vitamin K, crucial for cardiovascular support, and B vitamins, necessary for energy production. Increase use of herbs and spices. Turmeric is known for its great benefits in lowering inflammation and supporting immune function. Use generously in soups along with ground cumin and black pepper.
  • KEEP SUGAR INTAKE LOW! This includes alcohol and refined/starchy carbohydrates! Try to replace sugary snacks, toast and crackers with something more sustaining like a handful of nuts, seeds, an apple or carrot. There is a greater sensation of ‘fullness’ from these foods than you might think! Nuts and seeds have a high healthy fat content necessary for brain function and concentration. If working from home it may be hard to resist picking on odd bits from your cupboards. Try to stick with your meal times to give yourself a routine and the time to stop, eat, chew and digest. Energy levels will remain far more stable without those sugar highs and lows.
  • HYDRATION IS KEY. Staying hydrated is crucial in maintaining healthy function of all bodily systems. Drink fluids throughout the day to ensure your digestive and urinary systems flush out waste regularly. This can include herbal teas such as nettle, fennel, chamomile and lemon balm. These particular herbs have calming effects too that can settle both the gut and the mind.

Well Love, Melanie x

Nourish your body and your mind with

SUNSHINE, SLEEP, RELAXATION, MOVEMENT and ROUTINE

  • VITAMIN D is absolutely crucial in immune system function. SUNSHINE can give the amount of vitamin D we need when we are able to obtain it! Over these weeks with even less time to be outdoors it is important that we make that time to enjoy the sun on our skin as much as we can. Get out when the sun is out. Not only will this contribute to healing and repair, and the absorption of other key nutrients, it can make you feel so much brighter too. Our mental well being must be looked after during this time. Extra supplementation is often needed to ensure our levels are where they should be. 20 MINUTES of sun exposure is the safe recommendation before sun protection should be applied.
  • ADEQUATE SLEEP. We all know the importance of sleep and how it can make us feel when we miss out. Right now getting enough sleep each night is essential for our ability to fight infection and to ensure a better state of mind and overall wellness. Official guidelines of 7-9 hours per night should not be ignored. By implementing a good routine in daily exercise, relaxation and food consumption, a restful sleep will be more likely.
  • Try a STEAM INHALATION AT HOME. This doesn’t take long and is a simple way to take a little time to yourself and BREATHE. Not only can there be wonderful benefits for skin health, regular inhalation can help support a healthy respiratory system. Use essential oils if you can. Eucalyptus, tea tree and oregano oils are known for their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Simply fill a bowl with boiling water, add a few drops of your preferred oil, place a towel or scarf over your head and the bowl and breathe here for at least 5 minutes.
  • PICK AND PLANT. If you have a garden or simply a small window space there are opportunities to grow some things of your own. Start with potting some herbs and incorporating these herbs into your daily diet. This could mean fewer outings to the shops and an abundance of nourishing botanicals to add to your dishes. Parsley, basil, mint, sage, thyme, oregano and chives will all do well on a window ledge. If you live near a park or woodland, enjoy your outings by looking for what can be picked at this time of year. Look for wild garlic leaves to make a great pesto and nettles for soup. Both are currently out in abundance. An activity such as this can be very grounding in a time of such uncertainty.
  • ROUTINE AND RELAXATION. While our usual way of life is on pause, it is important to create a new routine for ourselves as much as we can. If working at home try to start at the same time each day and take a proper break to eat your lunch. Make sure you manage at least one form of physical activity per day, whether that is a walk, a run, a cycle or a class you could do online. Remember to stop and wind down at the end of the day if you can.

A note to readers: if you would like more information on important supplementation or any further advice and support during this time do not hesitate to contact Melanie via email. A variety of supplies can be ordered and sent directly to your home.

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