12 Immunity Boosters That Will Keep You Healthy This Winter August 22 2014 by Simone Denny
Hello Lovely Friend,
You may have noticed I've been a bit absent on the blog recently, I've been enjoying some time out with my family and had wee break in Byron Bay and Bali. I had limited internet on my travels (largely by circumstance) and I actually enjoyed the much needed mini technology break. I wrote about immunity boosters a few weeks ago - ironically my 2 little ones got sick in Bali, so boosting immunity has become even more of a priority in our house.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere like I do, you're no doubt enduring the chillier temperatures and shorter days (which thankfully are now getting longer). It seems that there are A LOT of people out there who are suffering with a cough, cold or flu right now.
At this time of year it is especially important to nurture and strengthen our immune systems with nutrient dense foods and supplements. In saying that, it is not just the foods we eat that boost our immunity - there are a host of different factors affecting the strength of immunity ranging from stress to love and affection.
Revered as the 'golden child' of immunity boosters, garlic has been a favourite natural remedy for centuries. Garlic contains a powerful compound called Allicin, which acts as a powerful antibiotic, anti-fungal and antiviral agent, helping to stimulate the immune system. Garlic is nature's antibiotic, protecting the body against bacterial and viral infections.
I love this purple garlic I found at the farmers markets.
Olive Leaf Extract
There is an increasing amount of research demonstrating that olive leaf extract can help boost immunity. According to Olive Leaf Australia, olive leaves have traditionally been used to enhance the functioning of the immune system and aid the management of viral infections, especially when fever is present.
In addition, olive leaf is an excellent antioxidant. It contains 400% more antioxidant power than the equivalent amount of Vitamin C. Olive Leaf Extract is a powerful free-radical scavenger and an easy addition to your morning smoothie.
We have discussed How Sugar Suppresses the Immune System in a previous article on the Nourishing Hub. White blood cells make up part of the immune system and help the body fight infection. One way that these white blood cells work is by gobbling up bad bacteria and thereby killing an infection. When simple sugars are consumed they dramatically reduce the ability of the white blood cells to respond to the infection for up to 5 hours.
There is increasing research indicating that those living stressful lives are more likely to get sick. US scientists exposed patients to a cold virus and found that those under stress were twice as likely to get sick. When the body is subjected to ongoing stress there is a steady release of cortisol and adrenalin (stress hormones), which suppress the immune system. Creating 'switch off' time, meditating, doing yoga or deep breathing are all strategies that can help combat high stress levels and in turn improve immunity.
Vitamin C is a well know for supporting a healthy immune system. Some time ago I shared an article on the Top 5 sources of Vitamin C - which you may find surprising! Did you know the highest natural source of vitamin C is the Kakadu Plum (known as Gubinge Powder ), which has 50 times the vitamin C concentration of oranges? Following a close second is Camu Camu (which comes in a powdered form) - this is an excellent immune booster and particularly good for stress and anxiety. Both are easy additions to your morning smoothie.
The two brands of vitamin C I recommend are Lifestream Vitamin C, made from Acerola Cherry, and Amazonia Vitamin C . Neither of these brands use synthetic ingredients (such as synthetic ascorbic acid usually found in vitamin C capsules). Instead they are made with what nature provides. Amazonia Vitamin C is said to have the equivalent of 9 oranges in one serve, plus the added benefit of added probiotics.
Hugging, massages, sex - even holding hands - are all good immunity boosters :). The magic of human touch can help to reduce cortisol levels which can weaken the immune system. The pleasure that comes from human touch can trigger the release of oxytocin (which is also released when a mother breastfeeds) which also reduces levels of immune damaging cortisol.
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, which is why g ut health plays a crucial role in our immune response. The beneficial bacteria or gut micro-biota that live in our digestive system help regulate the immune system.
Probiotics such as yogurt and kefir, fermented foods or probiotic supplements help to boost the immune system – their probiotic properties help ward off the growth of harmful bacteria in our gut. See the full range of digestive and gut health products here.
This incredibly nutrient dense blue green algae has a huge number of health benefits. Spirulina is a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). It is an excellent energy booster, a good source of vegetarian iron and it can help boost immunity with all of the phyotonutrients it contains
Up your Antioxidants
You have heard me discuss how antioxdiants can transform your health in a previous article . Antioxidants play an essential role in fighting off free radicals that can cause cell damage and premature ageing - they also play an important role in immunity. The compound known as Anthocyanin (responsible for the blue, red or purple hues in food) is a powerful antioxidant found in the following foods Acai Berry , Maqui Berry, Black Rice and o rganic Blueberries.
The link between sleep deprivation and immunity has been know for sometime. The University of Helsinki have discovered that certain biological mechanisms related to sleep loss affect the immune system and trigger an inflammatory response. The study looked at gene behaviour and found that functions in the immune system increased during sleep deprivation.
Our bodies use a circadian rhythm - an internal body clock which runs at an approximately 24 hour cycle, and is largely driven by changes in light and dark. When this body rhythm is disturbed (through jet lag, a new baby, night shift or staring into computer screens late at night) our immune system is also negatively effected. Research has shown our circadian clock and immunity are closely connected.
Zinc plays a crucial role in immune function and is often called the cornerstone supplement for a healthy immune system. Those deficient in zinc will be more susceptible to pathogens. Pumpkin seeds and Oysters are excellent natural sources of zinc, the other option is zinc supplements.
There are so many health benefits from the beloved coconut, boosting immunity is yet another reason to include this wonderful food in your diet. Coconut is a rich source of lauric acid, acrylic acid and caprice acid - these healthy fats contain anti fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help to boost immunity. Lauric Acid (which makes up 50% of the fatty acid in coconut) is concerted to monolaurin by the body, which is said to help heal damage caused by viruses.
Need some inspiration for your morning smoothie - check out our Immunity Boosting Smoothie