Boosting our immune system has rarely felt more urgent but, beyond eating more fruit and veg and hoping for the best, what else can we do?
To be immunologically fit, you need to be physically fit
Exercise mobilised your white blood cells by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their surveillance jobs and seek and destroy in other parts of the body. The advice for older people, who are more vulnerable to infection, is to do whatever exercise is possible. In 2018, a study by University of Birmingham and King’s College in London found that 125 non-smoking amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 still had the immune systems of young people. One of the many happy side-effects of exercise is that it reduces stress, which is next on our list of immune-boosting priorities. Stress hormones can compromise immune function.
Get your vitamins via your diet or supplements
Vitamin A is the immune system’s ‘defender’. To get more vitamin A in your diet, look for colour. Foods that are high in colourful compounds called carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
Vitamin B6 is critical to how your immune system functions. You’ll find it in bananas, cold water fish such as tuna, baked potatoes and chickpeas.
Vitamin C is associated with citrus fruits, but you can also get this immune-boosting vitamin from leafy greens like kale, spinach, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin D supports the immune system and provides protection against colds, flu, viral illnesses and bacterial infections. You can increase your intake by eating fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, and fortified cereals, orange juice or milk.
Take advantage of probiotics. Good bacteria (probiotics) live in your digestive tract and keep intestinal tissue healthy. Probiotics can stimulate the production of antibodies and T-cells (specialised immune cells) to fight off invading viruses.
Don’t forget to vaccinate! It can take up to two weeks to start working, so get inoculated as soon as you can in preparation for cold and flu season. A flu shot offers protection as well as increased levels of white cell activity.
Source: KK Publishing