Your immune system is the way your body protects itself against disease, so it’s important to make sure it’s working at its best. There’s not really just ONE thing that helps to boost your immune system- like all elements of health, it’s multifactorial.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the need to maintain healthy gut bacteria to promote a well-functioning immune system. After all, 70% of your immunity is in your gut! So, it follows that anything that inhibits the function of your gut will also inhibit the function of your immune system.
You can nourish your gut by eating foods that look after the bacteria, and also the quality of the gut lining, as well as minimising the foods that promote growth of poor gut microbes, contribute to leaky gut problems and inflammation (1).
Promote better gut bugs by:
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha
- Cultured foods, such as non-dairy yoghurt
- Eat a Mediterranean diet
- Add in some gelatin/ bone broth
- Refined sugar
- High fat/ low fibre diet
- High amounts of dairy
- Processed foods (including processed grain foods like flour)
- Foods likely to be high in pesticides (this may effect microbiome quality)
Getting quality (and enough!) sleep, and managing your stress levels will also promote a healthy gut, as well as allowing your body time for rest and repair. If you’re feeling like you need to slow down- listen to your body! In cases where you may need to take antibiotics, make sure you take a solid course of probiotics afterwards- take the whole bottle, not just some over a few days.
Other things to boost your immune system include:
- Ensure your vitamin D (3) levels are good- eat foods rich in Vit D such as salmon, mackerel, meat, eggs, or consider taking a supplement.
- Ensure adequate levels of Vitamin C (4)- eat foods rich in Vit C, including citrus fruits, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli and kiwifruit.
- Eat some Manuka honey- we live in NZ after all!
- Echinacea and Olive Leaf Extract may also help to give your immune system a boost
- Eat more anti-inflammatory foods if you're fighting something, such as turmeric, ginger, dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale), and apple cider vinegar.
- Throw some (NZ) seaweed into your bone broth to help boost your mineral intake.
- Chiropractic care- not necessarily directly boosting your immunity, but helping your body and brain talk better to each other will, in theory, help your body function better overall.
My mum used to make us lemon and honey drinks when we had colds as kids. Every winter, I now make up a jar of lemon, honey, ginger and turmeric, to help with fighting sore throats and colds when I feel them coming on.
Here’s my latest recipe to make up for your own fridge!
Combine in a jar:
- 1.5 cups lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Manuka honey (for best health benefits)
- 1.5 teaspoon finely grated ginger
- a heaped 1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh turmeric
Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days to help it all emulsify, then stir it up properly. Add to your taste to a cup of hot (rather than boiling) water, and enjoy!