Researchers have been exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans for several years. And whilst it’s not rocket science, there are indicators that we can optimise the immune function through general healthy-living strategies.
So in a time when we feel like we haven’t got much control over things, here’s a little reminder of the things you CAN do to boost your immune system
Vitamin D and vitamin C have been shown to boost immune systems and fend off colds. They do well with other supplements like zinc and magnesium. And since Vitamin D is fat soluble, you would do well to take some Omega 3 with it to help absorption. Take this combination religiously. In a period of time when you feel powerless, this small step can help you feel that you’re in control too. Because as you know, mindset is everything.
Vitamin C – as much as you can tolerate, in small doses (i.e. until your stool becomes loose)
Vitamin D – up to 2500 iu per day
Zinc – up to 8 mg per day
Magnesium – up to 350mg per day
Omega 3 – 2 to 5g of Omega 3 per day but this will depend on % of EPA / DHA in your supplement. Aim for 1g-2g of combined EPA/DHA.
Get the Basics Right
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you will know that I’m always preaching about the basics.
- Good sleep
- Lots of water
- Whole foods
- Fruit and veg
These are as important for your immune system as they are for weight-loss and overall health. And yes, it’s Christmas and yes, we’re anxious. But that’s no excuse to behave like a dickhead.
Alcohol, sugary foods and too much food in general is detrimental to your immune system.
Think of it this way: your body can only do so many things at once. And if it’s busy recovering from a hangover, dealing with a sugar overload, or fatigued due to too little sleep then the resources it can allocate for keeping coughs and cold and bays are reduced.
I can’t believe we haven’t heard much more about this. It’s like everyone is skirting around the issue. While we’re all merrily getting jabs in our arms, the other thing that would definitely help our immunity is being at a healthy weight.
The cynic in me would say it’s because getting a jab is far easier (for most) than making a long term change to our diet and lifestyle.
Or that the government, and food industry and the pharmaceutical industry, are invested in keeping us consuming their crappy foods. And requiring symptom-alleviating (but not health-restoring) medicines.
But it’s Christmas and I’m trying not to be cynical, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole (much). So I’ll move on.
But yeah, losing weight is super important.
It might sound glib, but anxiety, stress and pointless worry is EXACTLY the thing we should be avoiding in order to maximise your immune system. So tuning into the 10 o’clock news, fretting about numbers or endless chatter with friends about what may or may not happen is probably harming your immune system. I just wish our idiotic leaders would realise this. Here’s an easy to read explanation of the the effects of stress on our immune system.
It’s important to know that you can control your thoughts in the same way that you can control your conversations. The internet is full of great advice on how to stop worrying, like setting up specific worry time, using distraction or mindfulness techniques, using mantras to reframe your thoughts. Here’s a good blog on this subject.
If you find that your headspace is frequently occupied by negative thoughts, imagining worst-case scenarios or anticipated threats it might be useful to try some of the methods in this blog.