As the world continues to juggle many infectious diseases such as Covid-19 and the common cold & flu, it is extremely important to stay on top of your health and do what you can to naturally boost your immunity!
Many of you know that when you get stressed you get sick. Especially around cold and flu season.
Below are the TOP10 things you can do to naturally support your immune system.
While most gyms are vigilantly employing healthy practices to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria than can cause illness. Going to the gym might not be top of your list. Either way you need to maintain some level of moderate to high intensity movement or resistance training. Studies of immunology have shown moderate exercise performed regularly may reduce the risk of upper respiratory infection by 33%. However, intense exercise performed too frequently or long duration (marathon’s etc) saw a 200- 300% increased risk of infection (lowered immune function).
Tip: Exercise 3-4 times a week for 30–60 mins at moderate to high (not extreme) intensity. Preferably outside in the sun away from crowds.
2) Reduce Stress
Easier said than done when there is so much hysteria and misinformation around the coronavirus spreading across the planet.
However, there is no doubt high levels of physical, emotional and psychological stress reduces lymphocyte (B-Cell & T-Cell) number and activity.
Not to mention stress reduces digestive function which may lead to malnourishment and stress may reduce sleep quality which we will talk about more soon.
Here are some tips to reduce stress...
- Have fun – find things you like to do that may not involve too much public interaction.
- Yoga – clinically proven to improve all health parameters and profoundly reduce stress
- Meditation / Breathing – Found to lower cortisol, lower blood pressure and support immunity.
- Exercise – while it is acute stress it helps improve overall markers of stress due to endorphin and dopamine release.
- Supplement – Magnesium, L-Theanine, Glycine and Ashwagandha have been shown to reduce markers of stress, reducing oxidation and supporting our endogenous immunity. Such supplements include:
3) Reduce drugs, alcohol and cigarettes
It is commonly known smokers with upper respiratory tract infections have more severe symptoms and are more likely to develop pneumonia. Not to mention smoking, alcohol and drugs are contain or are themselves toxins that have immunosuppressing effects. Alcohol damages the lining of the gut allowing for more pathogens like bacteria and viruses to get into our body. Alcohol also kills some of the good bacteria in our microbiome that act as our first line of defence
Tip: Keep alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to a minimum while viruses are in circulation. If you feel like a drink stick to 1–2 glasses of red wine since resveratrol (found in red wine) possess antioxidant and immune boosting benefits. These benefits are lost once you go past 2 small glasses.
4) Reduces sugar
Excess sugar consumption has been shown to reduce immune function by essentially putting neutrophils into a coma. Immune suppression post sugar intake can last for 2 - 3 hours. This could be all the time it takes for you to be exposed to a spreading virus or bacteria.
However, if you do contract a virus avoiding carbohydrates all together might be counterproductive. In fact, one recent study showed faster symptom relief from a flu virus on a balanced diet vs a ketogenic diet.
Tip: Minimise processed packaged foods that are over 40% carbohydrates or over 10% sugar. Try to eat more whole foods and remove added sugar where possible. However, if you contract a virus do NOT deprive your body of carbohydrates.
5) Increase Sunlight (Vitamin D)
There are several reasons colds and flu viruses are less prevalent in summer.
One of the major reasons is more sun exposure leading to higher vitamin D
levels Vitamin D3 has been shown to boost immune function by increasing T-cell number and activity.
A 2010 double blind placebo-controlled study showed a 42% reduction in the contraction of influenza when a therapeutic dose of Vitamin D was administered.
Close to 75% of adults in Australia have low to deficient levels of Vitamin D thanks to working indoors and covering up when we are outdoors. Also, not having adequate levels of high-quality fats in our diets or being on statin drugs can significantly reduce vitamin D.
Tip: Get 20-30 mins of midday sun exposure on as much skin as possible or alternatively supplement with Vitamin D3.
Here are some supplements with a great dose of Vitamin D:
6) Eat more veggies
Over 83 peer reviewed published studies have linked increased vegetable intake with higher levels of immunity. It's not new news to most of us that the micronutrients that should be found in fruits and vegetables will support our health and wellbeing. The problem is our food isn’t supplying enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants due to adulterated farming practices that leave the soil depleted.
This lack of nourishment means the vegetables can no longer defend themselves from invaders and must be sprayed to protect them from bugs. However, these toxic sprays also kill the bugs that populate the ecosystem of our digestive tract which reduces our innate immune defence system.
Tip: Eat fresh fruits and veggies every day that are spray free or organic if possible. If you can’t find spray free, be sure to wash them in water and apple cider vinegar.
Here are some supplements with a great dose of Micronutrients:
7) Get more quality sleep
Sleeping 8 hours is a good start but getting 8 QUALITY hours is even better. During sleep our body releases less immunosuppressing stress hormones and
we go into repair mode. This includes clearing out inflammation, bacteria
and viruses. In fact, our natural killer cells are more active during deep (delta) sleep than any other time of the day. One study conducted by Dr Michael Irwin and colleagues showed sleep deprivation led to a 30% decrease in natural killer cell activity.
Top tips for better quality sleep:
- Most deep sleep is achieved before midnight so be sure to get to bed around 9pm.
- Shut off all blue light emitting devices 1 hour before bed or use blue light blocking glasses.
- Don’t eat a big meal within 2-3 hours of bed.
- Don’t exercise too late in the day.
- Don’t consume caffeine or other stimulants to close to bed.
- Avoid sugar and alcohol within 4 hours of bed.
Here are some great Sleep Support Products:
8) Get more herbs in your diet
There are many herbs that have powerful antiviral benefits. Here are just a few
you will find in Vitality Switch...
Oregano – This herb contains carvacrol which has been shown to kill murine norovirus within 15 minutes of exposure. It has antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus, rotavirus and more.
Rosemary – Contains several healthy plant compounds including oleanolic acid which has been shown to kill influenza virus and more.
Astragalus – Contains powerful polysaccharides that have been shown to combat herpes virus and influenza H9 virus.
Ginger – Contains gingerols and zingerone that exhibits powerful anti-viral defence against avian influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) & human norovirus. Also, ginger has been shown to prevent viral replication.
Dandelion – Has test tube research showing powerful virus killing potential against hepatitis B and influenza. Also, dandelion inhibits the replication of mosquito born viruses like dengue.
9) Munch on Medicinal Mushrooms
Several mushrooms have been shown to prevent and treat respiratory viruses like the common cold and influenza virus. This is incredible considering viruses are notoriously difficult to prevent and treat due to their highly infectious nature
and ability to mutate.
Here are 4 mushrooms you will find in Vitality Switch™ that may be helpful.
Shitake - When specifically studied on influenza, shiitake was found to inhibit the growth of the virus by preventing the entry and uncoating process of viral infection. Researchers also tested an intra-nasal vaccine of shiitake extract, which increased the survival of flu-infected mice.
Reishi –Contains substances called triterpenes and beta-glucans which are
the main beneficial anti-viral compounds. Reishi can combat many viruses, such as herpes, Epstein-Barr, and hepatitis.
It has also been found to be effective in killing influenza A virus, which causes many outbreaks of flu throughout the season, including the very virulent and dangerous H1N1 strain.
Cordyceps - The anti-influenza effect of cordyceps is th ought to be driven by increased natural killer cell activity along with other virus - killing cytokines. In addition, cordyceps have been shown to improve lung health by decreasing inflammation
Chaga – Considered the king of mushrooms and one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet, Chaga is a powerful immune booster.
Animal and in vitro studies suggest that chaga extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria
and viruses. Chaga also promotes the formation of beneficial cytokines that regulate the immune system and stimulate white blood cells, which are essential for fighting disease
10) Zinc & Vitamin C
This duo has been recommended for many years by practitioners, doctors and
naturopaths to help support immune health and recover from colds and flus.
Many of the symptoms we experience during a cold or flu are as a result of our innate inflammatory immune response getting out of control. Recent studies showed Zinc supplementation may put the brakes on this response reducing the severity of symptoms while simultaneously supporting our immune system.
Vitamin C supports the production of interferons and the function of phagocytes leading to a robust immune system and an effective viral defence network. 80 times more Vitamin C is found in immune cells than in plasma, indicating its importance during cold and flu season.
Here are some supplements that contain Zinc and/or Vitamin C: