The immune system is the body’s defence against disease-causing microbes including bacteria, parasites and viruses. With the ever-increasing threat of the current global pandemic, supporting our immune system has never been more important.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to support the immune system through diet and lifestyle which can easily be incorporated into our daily lives. We caught up with Clarissa Lenherr, Nutritionist from personalised healthcare service Bioniq who offers her expert advice on how to quickly enhance your immune system.
First things first, have a glass of water. Rehydrating first thing is a great way to start the day. In a well hydrated state, our lymphatic system, which contributes to removing toxins and waste in the body, works effectively to support our immune system and transport white blood cells around the body. To avoid dampening the lymphatic system’s output, have one large glass of water upon waking and aim for 1.5L of water per day as a minimum.
If possible, try to fit in your exercise in the morning before you start your day. This will allow you to take advantage of your circadian rhythm, which governs your wake and sleep cycle and gives you more natural energy in the morning, rather than later in the day. Regular exercise has been shown to support the immune system and can also help with weight management, which is another important factor in immune system health. The NHS suggests adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise. So, try and fit in a run, online class or have a dance round the house with the kids!
Aim for a plate with a mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, fats, fruit and veggies to give you an adequate amount of energy for the day. Our immune system requires energy to function optimally, and low energy intake can slow our immune system responses. Some well-balanced breakfast examples include rye bread topped with salmon and avocado, an omelette with butternut squash and yogurt topped with oats and nuts. Breakfast is also a great time to take an immune supporting supplement, such as bioniq IMMUNE, which contains the highest-grade antioxidants and Swiss manufactured vitamins, including Zinc, Vitamin D3, K2 and C. It is blended into tiny granules that should be taken in the morning and then again in the evening for optimal absorption. This unique absorption process allows you to digest and tolerate the granules easier than vitamins that are taken singularly in pill format, which can often cause nausea and other adverse side effects. Simply mix the formula into smoothies, on top of yogurt or with juice or water.
Incorporate Omega 3 and colours into your lunch time meal. Lunch is a great time to pack in the colours of the rainbow alongside a healthy dose of protein rich sources of Omega 3.
Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that contribute to immune system function, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. Our bodies can’t actually make Omega 3 and we are therefore left reliant on getting adequate intake through our diet. The best sources come from oily fish such as mackerel, anchovies and salmon, or walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds for those following a plant based diet. Aim for a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits in your diet in order to obtain an array of vitamins and antioxidants. Certain colours of fruits and vegetables can provide different benefits; for example, red fruits such as tomatoes contain Lycopene, a potent antioxidant, whilst orange vegetables such as carrots can provide beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. Try pairing mackerel or salmon with a salad filled with orange, green, red and yellow vegetables, or top a colour-filled plate with a sprinkle of walnuts and flax seeds.
When we consume caffeine, we secrete cortisol, one of our stress hormones. This is fine in moderation, but too much cortisol in the body can supress our immune system. Swap your afternoon cup of coffee for a turmeric tea or turmeric latte, which will provide you with a hit of curcumin, the active component of turmeric which has been linked to supporting the immune system, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and source of antioxidants.
Eating your dinner early on in the evening can have a number of benefits, including reduced stress on the digestive system and better sleep quality. Additionally, fasting over night for a minimum of 12 hours has been linked to several health benefits including reduced inflammation, a clear out of the dead or damaged cells and weight loss. Try to also eat lighter meals in the evenings and avoid sugary night-time snacks.
Sleep is incredibly crucial to our immune function, and the deeper sleep you get, the more refreshed and restored you will feel. When we enter a deep sleep (often referred to as stage 3-4), many of the systems in the body reset and restore. To help your body get into a deep sleep, ensure you are reducing blue light exposure from technology, avoid caffeine after 2pm, use stress management techniques and limit alcohol consumption, particularly late at night.
Clarissa Lenherr, Registered Nutritional Therapist at bioniq
Clarissa Lenherr has had a successful career as a Nutritional Therapist, since graduating from The College of Naturopathic Medicine. Clarissa is an active member of BANT (The British Association of Nutritional Therapists) and CNHC Complementary and Natural Health Care Council. Alongside practising personalised nutrition, advocating the “no one size fits all” approach, Clarissa works as a registered Nutritional Therapist for bioniq.