Cheap, effective and backed by science, here’s the how to guide for Autumn & Winter…
Summer is truly over and the Autumnal weather has set in. Many clients in our Manchester health clinic and personal training gym are fighting a cough, cold, or sore throat, so we thought it’d be handy to share some of our ideas around how you can super charge your immune system in no time at all;
1/ For a quick and highly effective home remedy for children and adults, include a teaspoon of Manuka honey mixed with organic turmeric powder. The Manuka honey not only makes the turmeric powder more palatable, it also has antibacterial properties (1). Alternatively take ½ a teaspoon of organic turmeric powder in a small glass of water, one to three times daily.
There is a ton of research on the benefits of turmeric, it influences our complex immune system on so many different levels and can be a powerful anti-inflammatory (2), anti-microbial (3) and anti-oxidant (4, 5, 6).
2/ Take a good probiotic! Good bacteria for the intestinal system is critical for a strong immune system. As Louis Pasteur is claimed to have said, the terrain is everything, the germ is nothing. Support your terrain with plenty of beneficial bacteria through a high quality probiotic supplement (minimum 20 billion CFU per day) and fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, olives and Kombucha. Probiotics have been proven to reduce duration of illness (of acute upper respiratory tract infections) in adults and children (7).
3/ Vitamin D is an amazing immune system modulator. Research has shown that those with low levels of vitamin D tend to be more likely to get respiratory infections (e.g. flu, common cold, sinus infections, bronchitis) than those with optimal levels (8)
How does vitamin D support the immune system? Immune system cells have vitamin D receptors (9) that vitamin D can bind to. Once bound to the cells, vitamin D can help to lower inflammation whilst increasing the amount of antimicrobial proteins (like naturally occurring antibiotics) that can destroy germs and viruses.(10)
Almost everyone in the UK needs to supplement with vitamin D. Get your vitamin D tested and aim for a level of around 120 to 150 nmol/L. Short term doses up to 10,000 IU daily, for most people, when you’re feeling run down, are unlikely to cause any harm (11)
4/ Increase your veggies. When we’re feeling run down it’s easier to reach for less healthy comfort food, but it’s not likely to help our immune systems out. Instead really focus on vegetables that are packed full of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Deep coloured fruit and vegetables are usually high in antioxidants; berries, sweet potato, kale, chard, spinach, bell peppers, apple, plum, cherry, kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans. A NutriBullet, soup or stew would be a convenient way to pack those nutrients in.
5/ Zinc is a mineral that supports immune function, and can reduce the severity or duration of a cold, particularly if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms (12). A zinc deficiency can rapidly diminish antibody responses, leaving us more susceptible to infections. A short term dose of 25-50mg with food, daily, may help if you’re feeling run down, or if you have a sore throat, zinc gluconate lozenges may also help.
6/ Support your immune system all day long with a large thermos flask packed with immune boosting ingredients. Try hot water, a slice of fresh ginger, a teaspoon of turmeric powder (or a slice of fresh turmeric), a wedge of unwaxed lemon, and an organic green tea bag (or two). It can be tamed (!) with some Manuka honey. Sip throughout the day and top up with hot water, as required.
By the way, a lot of people think that vitamin C is the holy grail of immune system health - in fact the evidence suggests that while vitamin C may shorten the duration of a cold, it doesn't help to prevent it.
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,
Dee & Matt