Updated: Apr 2
Hey health seekers! Are you a little nervous with cold and flu season looming and the current hype over the Coronavirus?
It seems many social media and news sites are fanning the flames of panic over the outbreak of this troublesome flu strain and predicting all kinds of gloom and doom. Well, let me help you put some fears to rest and show you some simple ways to naturally boost your body's own defences and strengthen your immune system.
The saying, “An apple a day can keep the doctor away,” may have some truth to it after all. A diet made up of deeply nourishing foods rich in essential vitamins can go a long way in supporting your body's immune system fight to off colds and flu.
Your immune system is made up of vital organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. Together, these carry out bodily processes that fight off pathogens, which are the viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease. Your immune system is the first of defense. When comes a pathogen (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease) enters the body; your immune system releases antibodies, which attach to antigens, the toxin or other foreign substance, on the pathogens and kills them. If your immune system is weak or compromised, this process is impaired and leaves you open to falling sick to to the common cold, viruses or flu bugs.
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Let's take a look at some essential vitamins for your vitality and well-being, and explore some super simple ways to boost your immunity against illness at home.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C is by far one of the most important immune system boosting vitamins. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many types of fruits and vegetables. It acts as an antioxidant to neutralise free radicals and reduce the risk of inflammation and disease.
We need a steady supply of this ascorbic acid because what is not absorbed, is flushed from the body. Your body cannot create vitamin C either, so it’s one of a few essential nutrients that we must get from our diet.
A typical dose using a supplement form is 75-120 milligrams, however to treat some illnesses upwards of 1000 - 2000 milligrams can safely be used depending on the supplement strength and source. Always consult your GP or health practitioner before upping your vitamin intake. Most of us only need to take the supplement form when fighting a cold or if becoming unwell. The majority of the time it is far better to get ascorbic acid from your food. A word of caution though; consuming too much through supplements can cause bloating, wind, and diarrhoea. Your body will tell you how much it needs by the occurrence of these symptoms.
To strengthen your body’s immunity naturally with vitamin C, all you need is to eat a wide variety of naturally vitamin C rich produce. Pick from fresh, organic citrus fruits like grapefruits, lemon, oranges and tangerines and add the fresh wedges to your water bottle, the fruit juice and pulp to salads, desserts and of course, eat them just raw. Try organic or farm fresh red, orange and yellow capsicums, kiwi fruit (skin on), papaya, pineapple, strawberries and other antioxidant-rich berries, plus leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli.
RELATED: Learn more... How To Make Infused & Vitamin Water For Better Health
Vitamin Bs (Water Soluble)
Vitamin B6 is another water-soluble vitamin, one that plays a role in over 100 different reactions in the body. It is vital in the creation of antibodies and the biochemical reactions of the immune system. Additional benefits of consuming vitamin B6-rich foods include better the brain function, improved production of the “happy hormones” (serotonin and norepinephrine), treating arthritis, PMS symptoms and moodiness, as well as maintaining healthy blood vessels.
Vitamin B6 can be found in foods such as grass-fed beef, cold water fish such as salmon and tuna, and chicken breast. Vitamin B6 also is found in pinto beans, green vegetables and in chickpeas, which is the main ingredient in hummus. Having a serving of hummus made with immune boosting garlic and turmeric can do wonders. Use a dip, mix into salad as a creamy, thick dressing, or spread on high-fibre tortillas in salad wraps, sandwiches or just on toast. Most adults need around 1.3mg for good health and can get this easily enough by consuming a balanced diet with nutrient-dense foods and plenty of dietary fiber. Supplementing beyond a health food store vitamin B complex should be done under a health practitioner's care.
RELATED: Check out this post, The Big Mistake You're Making With Lemon Water
Vitamin E (Fat Soluble)
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. The fat-soluble vitamin is not only used by the body to rev immunity and fend off disease, it is also known as the "beauty vitamin" because it protects your skin from UV rays and ageing. According to a 2014 study published in the journal of Immunology, vitamin E can also help regulate an ageing immune system and protect your body against bacterial infections, especially those that cause pneumonia.
For the most part if you are eating a well balanced diet, you will consume enough of the vitamin from your food. To boost the body, sources of vitamin E-rich foods include avocado, broccoli, spinach, nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and seeds like sunflower, olive oil, sunflower oil, and wheat germ oil.
Always eat a rainbow and try to consume a varied source of foods every day. Purposely choose fruit and veggies from every color of the rainbow,” Nutrition Coach and Health Practitioner, Em Lewis suggests. “Your plate needs to look colourful. Have fun with it and ensure that you’re getting as many health-boosting vitamins and nutrients as possible.
It’s also important to know that they way you build a strong immune system is by maintaining healthy eating habits over time. You can’t eat four oranges at breakfast and expect to be protected that day against catching a cold. You must eat for good health at every meal each and every day.
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Can Supplements Help Your Immunity?
While vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, the best way to load up on essential nutrients is to get them straight from food. Your body absorbs and uses vitamins and nutrients better when they come from a dietary source. Some supplements can also have side effects, so ALWAYS check with you GP or health practitioner before making dietary changes or using new supplements.
As a Functional Food Coach, I am a big advocate for getting your nutrition from wholesome foods and limiting synthetic, overly processed items from your diet. However, there are instances where supplementing an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle is acceptable, and in some cases even necessary. This might be to boost the body in fighting health conditions such as cancer, thyroid or autoimmune disease. Supplements can help you increase your greens and phytonutrient intake, boost vitamin B and iron levels if you are plantbased or have trouble absorbing them. Vitamins and supplements can also be used to up your protein, omega-3, calcium and collagen intake as you age. These all have positive health benefits but are best done under a health practitioner's guidance.
Green Tea (Antioxidant)
Green Tea is naturally rich in antioxidants called "polyphenols". Polyphenols are powerful infection fighters and help protect the body against viruses, infections and sickness. But the magic powers of green tea doesn't just end there. Green tea has many health benefits and can even help you lose weight.
According Medical News Today, the two magic weight loss compounds found in green tea are caffeine, and a type of flavonoid called catechin, which is a powerful age-defying antioxidant. Both of these compounds can stimulate the body to produce heat by revving up the metabolism. This in turn, burns more calories, and aids the breakdown of body fat. In fact, there have been several studies that indicate regularly consuming pure green tea can help you burn as much as 75–100 calories per day.
In order to reap these natural fat burning benefits, you'd need to drink a fair bit of green tea. For those with no medical conditions* or who are unaffected by caffeine*, adding 2-5 cups a day can provide a little metabolic boost. I recommend you do this 15 minutes before main meals which will also aid digestion and help you regulate your appetite. However, to really get the full fat burning and metabolic effects, you'd need to consume 6-7 cups per day.
I don't know about you, but there's no way I can take that much caffeine, nor would I want to either. A standard cup of green tea contains between 30 and 50 mg of caffeine. Coffee contains 100 to 150 mg. For most people, 210 to 350 mg is a lot to take every day just to burn fat. In my opinion, it is far better to include a cuppa before your main meals 2-3 times and day and supplement if needed. This way you are getting the full health benefits of pure green tea and boosting your body’s thermogenesis process. This is the one I use, click here.
Water Is A Nutrient, Hydrate!
You might not think of water as a nutrient or a supplement but it truly is. Without out it, the body will shut down and literally die. We need a steady supply every day up between 2-3 litres to function our best.
Drinking water regularly throughout the day can hep you fend off potential viruses and colds. It keeps germs moving down into the stomach were they are more likely to be destroyed, and less chance of nasty cold bugs slipping into the lungs were they can take hold. Ward off the common cold and flu by keeping hydrated every day, even in winter.
To help clients stay hydrated and make water more palatable, I suggest adding fruit like blueberries, cucumbers, strawberries, limes or orange slices into your water bottle. When you are done drinking, you enjoy a healthy fruit or vegetable snack.
Infused water is a fabulous healthy way to boost your nutrient intake and hydrate instead of from sugary juices, chemical filled colas and energy drinks. You can also add your favourite herbs or edible oils for a wonderful aroma while you hydrate yourself naturally. Some of my favourites are rosemary, basil, mint, coriander, lemon balm and lavender. I also like to add in citrus, DigestZen and other oils from DoTerra which are food grade and fully edible (not all oils are). For more ideas and recipes, go here on the blog, or browse my collection of infused and vitamin waters on my Pinterest.
RELATED: I also love adding an Arbonne fizzsticks or PhytoSport Hydrate to my water bottle. These provide essential vitamins, trace minerals and are fabulous for those addicted to colas and energy drinks who want to quit. Just swap a fizzy for your usual cola or energy drink and free yourself from the excess sugar, chemicals and caffeine dump. Get your box of all natural goodness here.
HEALTH COACH TIP: Try adding the above suggestions to your current lifestyle. When you do adopt a new habit, make the changes slowly so you can really master it until adding anything else new. This avoids being overloaded with too many new ideas to implement. Eat healthy every day; sleep well and keep hydrated.
Put it into action. ...what are you going to try from this article?
Wishing you health + happiness,
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