The Covid-19 Pandemic has people thinking about how to take more control of their own health. The strength of your immune system plays a large part in how effectively you can fight off bacteria and viruses that may come your way. I believe good quality food can provide your body with a foundation for good health. Your immune system is incredibly complex and science is still learning about its intricacies; However there is some traditional wisdom that has been passed down through generations that may enhance your immune function.
Some everyday foods contain antimicrobial properties which can antidotally work as natural antibiotics, helping to keep your immune system strong.
Adding fresh garlic, ginger and honey to dishes is an easy way to increase your intake of these antimicrobial properties. For example, add honey or ginger to your tea, or try garlic in soups and salads.
Another suggestion is add some fermented foods to your diet. Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that can help your gut maintain a balance of healthy gut bacteria. A large part of your immune system function depends on your gut being able to maintain a positive ecosystem for the good bacteria to flourish.
Fermented foods have been around for centuries but have recently become more popular in western parts of the world. Just a few years ago it was not easy for me to find Kefir (milk based fermented drink) or kombucha (water based fizzy probiotic drink) anywhere, they are now commonly found in most grocery stores. Try drinking kefir or kombucha daily to enhance your immune system. Fermented miso is also a good source of beneficial bacteria.
Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, red bell peppers, spinach and other leafy greens can give your body the ability to fight potential infections by encouraging the production of white blood cells.
Aside from optimizing a healthy diet there are some lifestyle changes you can make to try and enhance your immunity.
- Wash your hands frequently. This is not only government advised during this pandemic but is just a great practice to make a habit. Make sure to wash with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Do this frequently throughout your day.
- Limit your alcohol consumption, alcohol can have an adverse effect on sleep (as well as have an adverse effect on your good gut bacteria) getting enough quality sleep can help your body to be able to fight bacteria and germs it may come in contact with.
- Make sure to keep your vitamin D levels are optimized vitamin D is an essential component of a healthy immune system. If you are lucky enough to live where the sun shines year-round take a daily 10-15-minute walk in the sun and let the sun touch your skin to produce vitamin D. If you live where it is grey and gloomy (like me in the UK) consider a high-quality vitamin D supplement. I prefer sprays as they may absorb better to be utilized. *Make sure your doctor approves of any supplements before you take them.
- Exercise! Moderate, regular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on your immune system. Try yoga, there are lots of free online classes , or take a brisk 30-minute walk per day.
Eating healthy foods, getting quality sleep, and managing stress will give your immune system the ability to function and be strong when you need it! Take good care !