We might be leaving winter and the traditional cold and flu season behind us, but if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s how important it is to look after ourselves all year round.
Foods to boost your immune health
Your first line of defence? Your diet. Whenever possible, cram your plate with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Good immune-strengthening foods include garlic, onions, olives, beetroot, peppers, chillies, carrots, apples, nuts, seeds, tofu, miso, lemon, lime, honey, strawberries, blueberries... the list goes on, but generally lots of colourful ingredients!
Try to eat all fruits and vegetables as raw as possible to avoid destroying the nutrients during cooking.
Look after your gut
Roughly 70% of your active immune cells are found in your gut, and they don’t work very well without the ‘good bacteria’ that live there. When you are first exposed to a virus, your immune system uses antibodies to bind to the virus in the respiratory and digestive tracts. These antibodies work to prevent the virus from entering the body further, and also identify it to be destroyed. Live, natural yoghurt is a good food source of probiotics, or if supplementing with a probiotic , aim for 5-25 billion friendly bacteria daily.
Maintain a healthy weight
Having a little extra weight or being underweight can lead to problems with immune function. Following a healthy diet and exercise programme goes a long way to solving many weight-related health conditions.
Work up a sweat
Exercise is important for strengthening your immune system and of course your overall physical and mental wellbeing. It encourages white blood cells (disease fighting cells) to flow through the body at a quicker rate so that your immune system is prepared to fight infection.
Scientists are still trying to figure out the exact relationship between sleep and the immune system, but many agree that a lack of sleep can severely impair immunity and make you more vulnerable to infections like colds and flu. Establishing a healthy sleep routine and getting the optimum seven and a half to nine hours of sleep a night is important for keeping your immune system ticking healthily.
Practice good hygiene
Transferring germs from your hands to your mouth and nose is the quickest and easiest way for bugs to flourish. To prevent germs from even getting near your immune system, wash your hands regularly, and minimise direct contact.
Laughter is great for your immune function. It boosts infection-fighting white blood cells and reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood stream. What is it they say about laughter being the best tonic?
Looking for some additional immune support?
Here are three of our favourite immune health products from Pukka:
1. Pukka Power Immune, £24.99 for 60 capsules
With vitamin C, Echinacea, Andrographis and Acerola, Pukka Power Immune is expertly blended to help support your immune system. Capsules contain 100% organic high quality herbs and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Take two to four capsules per day over the course of seven days – great for an immune boost.
2. Pukka Elderberry Syrup, £14.99 for 100ml
A sweet and delicious organic blend of elderberry, Manuka honey and ginger, Pukka’s Elderberry Syrup is a concentrated broad-spectrum formula that provides an array of nutritious herbs to help support your immune function. Suitable for vegans and children over the age of two, simply adjust the dose depending on your age and take up to three times daily for maintenance.
3. Pukka Elderberry and Echinacea Tea , £2.99 for 20 sachets
Sweet and moreish, with just a hint of zest this is one of our favourite Pukka teas . With wild elderberries, juicy blackcurrants and immune-supportive Echinacea, it’s excellent for the immune system. It’s also suitable for vegans and those who are gluten intolerant. Bring these wonderful herbs alive by infusing in freshly-boiled water for at least 5 minutes.