How to Support Your Immune System Naturally
Your immune system is a network of cells, organs, proteins and antibodies that work to protect you against bacteria, viruses and parasites. Whilst we generally only think of our immune system when we feel ill, it’s actually working every day to keep us safe.
There’s a lot of chatter out there about ‘boosting’ your immune system, but it’s not that simple. The immune system is just that – a complex system, not a single entity.To best defend your body, every component of your immune system needs to be well-functioning and in balance.
The best way to support the immune system is through a combination of lifestyle factors and good nutrition.
Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to good health generally and therefore to a healthy immune system. Exercise also reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can put added pressure on the immune system.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is a time when your body heals and regenerates. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system is less able to defend your body. Sleep deprivation also elevates cortisol levels which can wear down the immune system.
Many of us struggle to get enough good quality sleep but there are things we can do to best support our sleep rhythms:
- Avoiding screens for an hour before bed, as the blue light can disrupt our sleep hormones; even if you have a blue light filter, the activities that we do with screens tend to be very stimulating.
- Avoiding caffeine after lunchtime, or even altogether if you are particularly sensitive.
- Taking a warm bath or shower before bed for relaxation.
- Having a regular routine can signal to your body that it’s time to rest, for example a cup of herbal tea, then reading for half an hour.
- Waking and going to bed at the same time every day, even weekends.
- Getting some natural sunlight first thing in the morning, which can help to regulate your body clock.
Keep stress under control
Long-term stress leads to chronically elevated levels of the steroid hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are constantly elevated, it blocks the immune system from kicking into gear and doing its job to protect the body against potential threats.
The nutrients you get from food— in particular, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices —are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly. Immunity and nutrition are tightly linked.
While one part of our immune system is always working, another springs into action only when needed, for example when we come into contact with a virus. This increase in activity requires extra energy. Cells in the immune system can get energy from carbohydrates, protein or fats, either from the diet or from body stores, and extracting this energy requires a number of vitamins and minerals.
The foundation for a healthy immune system is a good diet that provides sufficient energy, essential fats, protein, and all the essential micronutrients.
Diets that are high in processed and refined foods, and especially those high in trans-fats and sugar, on the other hand, are likely to worsen responses to infections.
The following vitamins and minerals are particularly important for immune function:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (vitamin B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Eating a balanced diet of wholegrains, fruits and veggies in every colour of the rainbow, complete proteins and healthy fats, helps to go some way to fitting in these vitamins and minerals each day.
In an ideal world we would all receive the full range of nutrients our bodies need from the food we eat. But the truth is, even with the healthiest diet, most of us will find this difficult.
Supplementing your diet with a good-quality multi-nutrient can help you to fill in the gaps in your nutrition and supply some of the nutrients you may not always take in each day.
Good Green Stuff gives your body a huge variety of nutrients-dense plant foods in each 10g serve. It includes over 75 ingredients, each one selected to support all 12 body systems, including digestion. Every serve contains 21 different plant foods and another 21 concentrated plant extracts.
These include gut support power houses like ginger and liquorice root, plus slippery elm, turmeric, dandelion, and burdock. You'll also get 550g of apple fibre and 6 billion dairy-free probiotics in every serving.