Benenden Hospital’s nutritional therapist Abir Hamza-Goodacre shares some advice
1. Support your gut
A mighty 80% of your immune system lies in your gut. Research shows that when there’s an imbalance in your gut flora, your immune system is weakened. You can positively influence the health of your gut by:
- Eating a whole food diet comprising plenty of colourful vegetables
- Reducing exposure to chemicals from the environment and food, buy natural and organic where possible
- Managing stress
Considering taking a good quality probiotic supplement to replenish levels of healthy gut flora.
2. Antioxidant defence
A diet rich in antioxidant nutrients can help boost the strength of your immune system. Examples of these nutrients include vitamins C & E, beta-carotene which are naturally occurring in plant that have antioxidant properties. Easting a diet rich in plant foods is key!
3. Add zing with zinc
This mineral is critical for healthy cell development and function. Zinc interacts with thousands of proteins in your body and is involved in around 300 enzyme processes. It improves wound healing, thyroid function, gut health, blood clotting, vision and smell. Zinc is a powerful antioxidant – when it is deficient the function of your T cells, which act as soldiers for your immune system, is reduced. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish, seeds, beans and legumes.
4. Raise vitamin D levels
Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. An optimal vitamin D level is one of the most protective factors to health along with a healthy diet and exercise. During the lighter months, most people should be able to get enough vitamin D from sunlight. Food sources include oily fish, red meat, liver and eggs.
5. Spice up your life!
It’s amazing to think that simple ingredients in your food cupboard can literally be medicinal.
Garlic – The high sulphur content in garlic not only boosts the flavour in food, but also has potent antibiotic actions and supports your liver to carry out detoxification more effectively.
Ginger – Contains a compound called gingerol, which acts as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Turmeric – One of the foods with the highest anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This is due to curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric that also gives the spice its golden hue.
Oregano – This spice contains antioxidants such as rosmarinic acid used to support immune health. Oregano also contains phytochemicals that give it antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Oil of oregano has been shown to treat infections and kill parasites, viruses, bacteria and even some fungi.
Cinnamon – used in many cultures to help fight harmful infections and viruses. This is because cinnamon is a natural antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral agent.
Published on 08 April 2020