March 17, 2020
Given the current health crisis the world over, I thought it was a good time to talk all things immune system health. As a naturopath, I’m always looking at natural ways to boost my immune system, whether it be through my diet, herbs or lifestyle choices.
Now more than ever, we need to feed our bodies the best nutrients to ensure our immune system stays in top condition. Here are my go-to’s for keeping my immune system healthy.
Green tea has been shown to be beneficial for immune health because of its high polyphenol content. These natural antioxidants help to protect the body against bacteria and viruses by inhibiting replication and therefore inhibiting development of these nasty bugs.
How to: Add a cup or 2 to your daily routine but avoid having it in the evening – green tea can contain almost as much caffeine as black tea.
Top tip: Many people find green tea quite bitter but it doesn’t have to be. To avoid bitterness, don’t let it steep longer than a minute and choose quality tea leaves. My personal favourite is Japanese sencha.
Ginger, turmeric and garlic
There are many beneficial herbs and spices for immunity but these 3 are my top picks. They have all been shown to have significant antibacterial and antiviral properties, as well as having other health benefits.
How to: ginger and turmeric are delicious in hot water as a tea (simply slice or grate into a cup and then pour over hot water), and all 3 can be added to soups and curries for amazing flavour.
Top tip: the best effects are seen in the fresh versions of these spices so try to buy raw ingredients whenever possible. I sometimes crush a fresh clove of garlic in my meal just before eating for maximum effect – just avoid doing this before meetings or hot dates!
Oranges, lemons and other citrus
Citrus fruits are obviously packed full of vitamin C and bioflavonoids which are essential for immune health, but they also hold other benefits. Their peels contain essential oils which have been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral effects.
How to: peel 2 or 3 fresh strips of their skins into a glass, cover with the freshly squeezed juice of these refreshing fruits and then drink. When peeling and juicing the stronger citrus fruits (lemon and lime), you may like to add them to cold or warm water to decrease the acidity and make them more palatable. You can also add fresh strips of peel to your water glass or bottle for great flavour and added benefits.
Top tip: its best to choose organic when using the peels of these fruits to avoid the waxes and chemicals found on conventionally grown citrus.
Not all honeys are built equally, and manuka is certainly a standout. Scientists have heavily researched this sweet beauty, finding it has potent antimicrobial benefits. Similar to green tea, manuka honey prevents replication, stopping colds and flus in their tracks.
How to: simply scoop and serve. As it contains natural sugars, limit it to no more than 3 teaspoons daily.
Top tip: Manuka honey is graded according to its potency – the higher the number, the higher the potency. You definitely get what you pay for!
Other immunity do’s and don’ts
• DO ensure you’re eating nutrient dense meals – you are what you eat and so make sure you’re only putting in the good stuff. My favourites are fresh smoothies, salads, soups and curries.
• DON’T consume alcohol or refined sugar – these guys have the opposite effect on your immune system (they depress it) and so are definitely off my list when I need to look after my health.
• DO stock up on Echinacea – when I really feel like I’m fighting something off, I’ll take this potent herbal immune booster in both tablet and herbal liquid extract form. Seriously good stuff!
Hope you find this helpful!