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3 Ways to Boost your Immune System

No doubt you are up to speed on the NHS Guidelines on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 or indeed other seasonal challenges.

A lot of you are asking: “What else can I do?”

We thought we would put together a list of proven actions that can help boost your general immunity. Perhaps working from home more will allow you to slot some of the tips below into your day.

  

  1. Reduce Stress

 

Easier said than done when the world is flipping on its head.  Still, we must keep our heads and focus on the action we can take because chronic stress keeps your immune system from working at full capacity.

Our top tips for combating stress:

Breathe to change your state.

The number one tool in your arsenal. You breathe 20,000 times a day, every day.  Stress breathing uses neck and upper back muscles and pumps out the stress hormone cortisol.

Full exhale focused diaphragm breathing can change your state and the hormones produced.

Try this 60 second technique.

Move more!

Exercise quite literally boosts your body’s immune response. The more we move the better we are at fighting off unwanted infection [4].

The right exercise reduces stress and additionally, decreases inflammation in the body and lessens the likelihood of a whole host of preventable lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.

Keep your gym habit up.

Keep your yoga habit up.  Breathing and moving…

 

Correct your posture in a mini break with this T-Spine movement hack

Connect to nature – Forest Bathing.

Yes, you heard us! Forests. We don’t all live near a forest so failing that spend time outside in nature. Even being in urban green spaces can have huge benefits on the immune system, not to mention you can expect to feel improvement in mood and mental focus.

While we breathe in the fresh air of a forest, we breathe in airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves. Our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell that not only kill virus-infected cells in our bodies, but kill tumour cells too[4].

 

Working from Home? Try the Pomodoro technique.

A time management technique I have found very helpful and requires just an egg timer and some discipline. Check it out.

 

  1. Focus on your Diet & Gut.

 

Eat real food – Ditch the deliveries.

In other words, avoid ultra-high processed foods. Convenience food will have higher sugar and salt content so they taste better but can be lacking in key nutrients.

The basics:

  • Keep animal protein intake low, and when choosing to eat it always go for quality grass-fed/organic choices.
  • Organic everything! Avoid gut-lining aggravating nasties found in chemical pesticides [7]. Gut health = immune health.
  • Our favourite easy win: Riverford Organic Organic, sustainable and seasonal.
  • Bone Broths – known for their gut-healing properties. Swing by our favourite – Grace Café in St Pauls (say g’day to Phil & Kathy) – and grab fresh homemade bone broth daily.

 

Get your key nutrients –

The immune system works under a very strict balance, utilising vitamins and minerals from your diet to keep the process running in harmony. The best way to ensure this is through a varied and balanced diet of real food.

Zinc

Keeping the inflammatory response (a key part of your body’s immunity) in check is vital. It’s essential, but if the response gets ‘out of hand’ there is way more collateral damage to your cells than necessary!  Zinc is required to regulate the process[1][2].

The most “bioavailable” forms of zinc – the type your body absorbs the most readily – can be found in your diet. Make a conscious effort to include: 

  • Whole grains and milk products
  • Oysters, king Crab and lobster
  • Beef
  • Baked beans (cannellini) and chickpeas
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts (cashews and almonds)

 

Two delivery options we can say are healthy

  • Our private chef Albi Ison creates bespoke and (crucially) delicious meals delivered fresh to your home or office each morning. If you’d like to know more, get in touch.
  •  You also have a 10% discount using PROHABFFF10 or a £25 discount using PROHABFFF25 at Fresh Fitness Food

 

Vitamin D

The one supplement the NHS gives for free as it so critical to many of the body’s functions including immunity.

We Recommend:

Vitamin D: Wild Nutrition Vitamin D

 

A Solid Multivitamin

Multi-Vitamin: Complete Multi Powder

 

Upgrade Your Microbes

Your microbiome is a massive ecosystem made of up trillions of organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi & viruses that live in your digestive tract. Yours is as unique as your fingerprint and responsible for breaking down food and toxins, making vitamins and hormones and powering your immune system. And it’s producing neurotransmitters, 24 hours a day. [6].

However, we are each individual and have our own unique story of genetics, infection and antibiotic use, which can upset this equilibrium.

In animal studies, chronic psychological stress is associated with reduced bacterial diversity and beneficial gut bacteria. [11]

Probiotics introduce additional good gut bacteria and fall into three categories.

The three categories and links to some top-quality brands.

  1. Lactobacillus – Bifidobacterium: Organic 3 Gut Pro
  2. Saccharomyces Boulardii: Moss Nutrition – Saccharomyces Boulardii
  3. Bacillus Coagulans: MegaSporebiotic

Try one from each category for a month then switch to another category to make sure your microbes are topped up.

 

  1. Improve Recovery

 

While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could leave you more susceptible to everything going – including viruses.

If your sleep schedule is interrupted by a busy workweek or other factors, try to make up for it with the following practices:

Put down the tech!

Blue light (emitted from your electronic devices) is known to impact the quality of your sleep[8], plus that one last check through work emails or social media (especially at the moment) just before you drop off keeps the mind active, having to process the content long after you stop scrolling.

We suggest best practice to be 1.5-2hrs screen free time before bed.

+30 Minutes Additional Recharge

Going to bed just 30 minutes early per night will have a cumulative impact on your amount of recovery through the week. This small change really does add up!

Keep HIGH INTENSITY exercise to the AM

Exercise is wonderfully immune boosting, but did you know high-intensity exercise in the late afternoons and evenings can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep [9]?

Keep high intensity workouts to the AM’s and opt for lower intensity options later in the day (yoga, Pilates, walks or long steady and sustained cardio (a good measure of this is you’re still able to speak throughout).

Naps, not just for young & old

Working from home is the perfect scenario to top up your recovery.  Ideally taking two ten minute naps — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — has been shown to improve subjective and objective alertness, decrease fatigue and improve performance [10].

Meditate

This science is in. This works.

Check out Calm or Headspace.

 

Put a few of these tips into action and keep yourself fighting fit for the game that is life. The game is about to get funky.

 

Carlyle, Silva and Jill.

 

 

 

If you wish to purchase supplements from Amrita Nutrition (a brilliant one stop shop with practitioner grade products) you will need to be registered member.  Simply email us ([email protected]) to get you hooked up.

Full transparency: We do receive a small commissions from purchases.

 

References:

[1] Fischer Walker C, Black RE.; Zinc and the risk for infectious disease.; Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:255-75.

[2] Rink L, Gabriel P. Zinc and the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc 2000;59:541-52.

[3] Hart, P., Gorman, S. & Finlay-Jones, J. Modulation of the immune system by UV radiation: more than just the effects of vitamin D?. Nat Rev Immunol 11, 584–596 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nri3045

[4] Li Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3

[5] Sander. R, (‎2012) Exercise boosts immune response. Nurs Older People. 29;24(6):11

[6] J.K. Nicholson, E. Holmes, J. Kinross, R. Burcelin, G. Gibson, W. Jia, S. Pettersson, Science 336 (2012) 1262–1267 – gut biome

[7] Michele Teodoro, Giusi Briguglio, Concettina Fenga, Chiara Costa,

(2019) Genetic polymorphisms as determinants of pesticide toxicity: Recent advances, Toxicology Reports. 6(564-570),

[8] Green. A, Cohen-Zion. M, Haim. A, Dagan. Y (2017). Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities. The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research 34(7) 855-865

[9] Myllymäki, T., Rusko, H., Syväoja, H. (2012). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on nocturnal heart rate variability and sleep quality. Eur J Appl Physiol 112, 801–809

[10] Tietzel, A. J. and Lack, L. C. (2002). Alertness and cognitive performance benefits associated with brief daytime naps. Sleep, 25 (Abstract Supplement): A402

[11] Partrick KA1, Chassaing B2, Beach LQ3, McCann KE4, Gewirtz AT5, Huhman KL6.Acute and repeated exposure to social stress reduces gut microbiota diversity in Syrian hamsters. Behav Brain Res. 2018 Jun 1;345:39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 21.