Right now everyone is keen to support their immune system in any way they can, but are you running out of ideas? Don’t fret, there are plenty of tips to help you along the way, even something for every letter of the alphabet – who knew! Also, every little helps so. Even learning one or two new tips could help put you in good stead for the coming months.
A - Vitamin A is particularly good at supporting your mucous membranes. Mucous membranes line your respiratory tract (as well as other areas of the body) and help protect you from the invasion by bugs – including the pesky viruses that can give rise to cold and flu infections!
Balance – Balance is key in every area of our lives – and supporting your immune system is no exception. We need a good balance in terms of our diet, activity levels, hydration levels, sleep and mood. However, like everything, too much of a good thing isn't always beneficial, such as in the case of exercise and immune health – heavy training, for example, could make you more vulnerable to infection.1
Cuppa – A warming drink doesn't just lift our mood, research suggests that it could actually help to improve nasal airflow and symptoms of the common cold.2 Luckily for you, our Echinaforce Hot Drink has been designed with this in mind – result!
D - Vitamin D is vital for supporting and modulating your immune responses. Now, whilst food sources are somewhat limited and sunlight isn't in good supply all-year round, taking a supplement such as our Immune Support can offer extra protection against unwanted deficiencies.
Echinacea –Echinaforce is a herbal remedy containing echinacea which has been used traditionally for the symptomatic relief of colds, flus and similar upper respiratory tract infections. In addition to this, by supporting the immune system, Echinacea also helps to maintain the body's resistance to these infections.
Fruit and veg – Most of us admit that we could be eating more fruit and veg – but why is this such a good habit to get into, in terms of supporting your immune system? Chewing down on fruit and vegetables, including a wide variety of types and colours, means you obtain a plethora of all the nutrients you need to support your immune system optimally, including vitamins A, C and E, to name a few.
Gut bacteria – Supporting your immune system indirectly by also supporting your gut is a useful tactic. 70% of your immune system resides in your gut so it makes perfect sense! Consuming fresh foods, incorporating some fermented foods into your regime and employing a gentle prebiotic such as Molkosan are some of my top tips.
Handwashing – It's been well documented so I couldn't not include it in my list. Whilst many viruses are air-borne, many bacteria, which can give rise to nasty secondary infections, may be transmitted through touch. To risk falling ill again, before you've even recovered from your last bout, it's best to wash up properly.
Immune Support – Our Immune Support containing zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D, together with the herb nasturtium, can be used to help protect against nutrient deficiencies that could risk hindering your immune responses. Sufficient vitamin C, for one, has been found in research to help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms associated with the common cold.3 Therefore, our Immune Support can be used as part of a long-term protective strategy for excellent immune defence, but it can also be added to the likes of Echinaforce, as detailed above, in cases of current infection.
Just relax! – Did you know that stress could be having a detrimental effect on your immune functions?4 In evolutionary times, episodes of stress were normally short-lived, so certain systems of our bodies weren't designed to be so prominent during these times, including the immune system. However, nowadays, when stress may be a more recurrent problem, your health may suffer as a result of your diminished immune functions.
K - Vitamin K is thought to be involved in dampening down immune-mediated inflammation,5 therefore, if we don't have enough, we could soon end up suffering from some unwanted symptoms. Luckily, our good gut bacteria help with the production of vitamin K – so that's just one more incentive to keep your gut happy.
Laughter – Is laughter really the best medicine? Some research suggests so having found that people who rated themselves as happier, were less likely to fall ill than their less optimistic counterparts.6 This could have something to do with the fact that we react differently to stress depending on our mood.
Manuka – Manuka honey has long been hailed as wonderous ingredient to help support the immune system. Good quality manuka honey is graded with a 'unique manuka factor' to indicate the strength of possible therapeutic effect.
Nasturtium – Nasturtium is another product of nature which shouldn't be forgotten about in your quest to achieve optimal immune health. Nasturtium, a herbal ingredien found within our Immune Support, is an especially rich source of vitamin C, plus it contains special chemicals called glucosinolates which are thought to have an affinity for the lungs – fancy!
Outdoors – Even in the slightly cooler temperatures, it's good practice to wrap up warm and continue to get some fresh air. The exposure to sunlight, fresh air and movement will all help to support your system as a whole; from sleep, to your immune functions.
Probiotics – The link between your gut and immune system is well established so, if you think you need a little bit of help in that department, probiotics could be for you. Depending on your individual symptoms, there are different strains of probiotics, otherwise known as good bacteria, to suit every need. Browse Optibac's range of products for everything from support for your immune functions, to tackling specific digestive symptoms.
Quercetin – Quercetin is an ingredient which is often mentioned when it comes to immune health, and luckily it can easily be acquired by opting to eat some fresh fruit and veg! Apples, berries, broccoli and onions are all good sources of this helpful flavonoid.
Reindeer Lichen – This might be a relatively new ingredient to you, but it's one that you shouldn't forget in a hurry! Lichen forms within algae and is a fantastic, not to mention vegan, source of vitamin D. Watch my self-care tip below to find out more!
A.Vogel Self-Care Tip: Top up on vitamin D from vegan-friendly reindeer lichen
Here is my self care tip explaining how you can obtain some vegan-friendly vitamin D3 from reindeer lichen, used in our Immune Support product:
Sleep – Sufficient sleep is arguably one of the simplest steps you can take towards creating a healthy immune system. Some telling research found that sleeping only 4 hours per night, as opposed to the recommended 8, could deplete some of your immune cells by as much as 70%7 - yikes!
Turmeric – Turmeric has had lots of press over the last few years and the anti-inflammatory effects are thought to be quite impressive. A high-dose supplement isn't always deemed necessary so my advice is to incorporate it into your cooking instead. Cooking turmeric alongside healthy fats and other spices will help support the absorption of this wondrous spice.
UV rays – As safe sun exposure is recommended, ensuring you expose a decent portion of your skin is a useful tactic to help keep your vitamin D count up. Whilst you may struggle to be exposed to the types of UV rays we need to make vitamin D between the months of October and March, (depending on where you are in the world, of course) making more of an effort between the months of April and September can help to keep your stores stocked up for some time.
Valerian – If nodding off to sleep is easier said than done, then Valerian could be the herb for you. Found within our Dormeasan alongside some Hops, when taken 30 minutes before bed, Valerian can help you get a better night sleep and, in turn, do wonders for your immune health.
Water – Keeping hydrated is crucial for supporting most systems of the body, including your immune cells which have to patrol your system meticulously. If plain water isn't your thing, why not have some warm water with a slice of lemon instead – the warmth and vitamin-C rich lemon will offer some extra benefits.
eXercise– Moving more really can be beneficial for your immune functions – the proof is in the research. Moderate exercise has been found to be most beneficial, as long as you don't risk pushing yourself too hard. By the time a strenuous training regime is reached, there may be more of a dip in some of your immune responses.8
Yarrow – Overlooked by many, a strong stomach is crucial for tip top immune responses – after all, it's one of your first lines of defence! Stomach acid is designed to fend off any invading pathogens that you unknowingly ingest so, by using some herbal bitters such as Yarrow before meals, you can help encourage some suitable strong, gastric secretions.
Zinc – Last but not least, zinc. One more nutrient to add to the list of the immune-boosting must-haves. Whilst zinc is prominent in many foods including seafood, meat, wholegrains, beans and nuts, if you're worried you aren't quite getting enough, or feel you need a little extra dose to see you through, combining it with some other nutrients in a supplement such as our Immune Support can be a useful tactic.