Every Autumn, my family and I begin to prepare for the cold months of Winter, when viruses are more freely spread. We focus on our nutrition, increasing self-care and make sure we are getting enough key nutrients, so that our immune systems are healthy and robust and are protected against illness.
A healthy immune system reduces your chance of infection, so I want to share my top tips to help you supercharge your immune health too.
Improve your gut health
You maybe surprised to learn that a large portion of your immune system is located in your gut. Your gut bacteria play a crucial role in keeping you healthy, so it’s ideal having a diverse and balanced bacterial population in your gut is ideal, as it can help to strengthen your immune system.
Certain strains of probiotics can also reduce the incidence of respiratory infections, so speak to me about supporting your gut with specific immune-boosting probiotics. Or to learn more about how to look after this delicate eco-system, head to my article Gardening For Your Gut & Detox The Naturopathic Way.
Key Nutrients for a Strong Immune System
You can boost your immunity with the right Vitamin C supplement, as well as increasing your dietary intake of Vitamin C rich foods, like citrus fruit and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which is great for our immune system, but it’s not the only beneficial nutrient for your immune system.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for healthy immune function and if we don’t have enough, our body can struggle to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. You can boost your zinc levels with a daily supplement, as well as increasing zinc-rich foods such as oysters, beef, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, spinach, legumes, chickpeas and beans.
Zinc can interfere with some medications, so it’s important you consult with your qualified Healthcare Practitioner before supplementing.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the function of your immune system and supplementation can protect against acute respiratory tract infection. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies I see in my clinic. Optimal levels of Vitamin D are important for the immune system to work properly so if you are unsure about your current levels, you can test with your GP or your Naturopath. I prescribe both Vitamin D drops and a spray for my patients. Food sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, egg yolks and cheese and stepping out in the sun regularly is also recommended for a Vitamin D boost, but often not enough to increase levels where a deficiency is present.
During an acute consultation, I can recommend high quality, clinically effective immune-boosting nutrients at the correct dose, to help you stay well.
Key Immune & Respiratory Herbs
Herbal medicines are widely used by herbalists to optimise immune health and physical resilience. Specific herbal medicines include:
- Andrographis, Astragalus, Echinacea, Houttuynia, Isatis, Olive leaf, Japanese Knotweed, Licorice
- Medicinal mushrooms – Cordyceps, Lions Mane, Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake
On of my favourite things to do during an acute consultation is to formulate and prepare an individualised herbal formula, to help you support your immune system.
Lifestyle and Dietary Recommendations
There’s plenty you can do to avoid illness, try incorporating these handy tips into your life to improve your resistance and support recovery from colds and flus:
- Hand hygiene is critical. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly
- Reduce stress and anxiety – schedule in daily self-care activities; spending time in nature, a warm bath, meditation or deep breathing
- Ensure you are getting a good quality restorative sleep of at least 8 hours each night.
- Eat warm, nourishing foods to build strength. Bone broths are packed with valuable nutrients for your body, speak to me about a broth powder that can put a nourishing dinner on the table in minutes
- Add in turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions and chilli to help fight off illness and reduce inflammation
- Gargle and drink green tea for its antiviral properties
- Drink at least 2L of water to keep yourself well hydrated
If you need to review your health or want to individualise an immune protocol for you please book a quick & easy 15-minute appointment. I also have immune support kits that can be posted out to you or available for pick-up. Touch HERE to book a time.
Kristy – Aussie Naturopath