How to boost your immune system

Flu season is on its way and a second wave of coronavirus is coming, so it’s extremely important to protect and strengthen your immune system. Leading registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert has teamed up with coconut water health brand Vita Coco to tell us how to improve your immune system in four steps.

You can’t ‘boost’ your immune system, but you can support it.

Doing this will help your body prepare and fight off infection, which is ideal in the current climate.

Rhiannon explained: “The human body is complex with lots of biochemical reactions happening all the time, working hard to protect us and support our immune system.

“Although you cannot ‘boost’ your immune system and nor should you want to (this would actually potentially cause us more harm) you can look to support your immunity with a healthy lifestyle.”

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How to improve your immune system

Fill your plate with nutritious foods

Changing your diet is a sure-fire way to support your immune system.

A survey by Vita Coco found that 50 percent of Brits are concerned they’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients, and this could be impacting their immune systems.

Rhiannon advises: “Our immune system is so diverse and nutrition plays a significant role, along with many other factors such as psychology and mindset.

“A well balanced diet that encompasses all the food groups with a focus on incorporating wholegrains and good portions of plant-based foods is important for a healthy diet.”

“Something to consider is that the immune system needs all the essential micronutrients (our vitamins and minerals) to function correctly.”

Get your daily dose of Vitamin C

There is plent of evidence that vitamins support the immune system.

Rhiannon suggests taking the following supplements or eating foods that are full of them: Vitamins A, C, D, and E, folate, vitamins B6 and B12, beta carotene, iron, riboflavin, selenium, coenzyme Q10 and zinc.”

However, vitamin C is the most important out of them all for immunity.

She said: “When we’re sick our body uses more vitamin C so keeping your body topped up is important and may help to reduce the time you are unwell.

“Many people may not be aware that a deficiency in Vitamin C may not manifest for 4-6 months and this can result in fatigue, weakness, aching joints and muscles.”

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Vitamin C is often referred to as the ‘immunity vitamin’, and the daily recommended intake for adults aged 18 plus is 80mg.

Rhiannon said: “It is important to note you can only get this water soluble vitamin from diet as it cannot be stored in the body and eating a healthy diet every day should be enough!

“There is no need to supplement but you should eat a diet which includes plenty of colourful fruits, vegetables and variation.”

She also recommended drinking Vita Coco coconut water for some additional vitamin C.

A 500ml carton of Vita Coco coconut water contains 90mg of vitamin C, that’s even more than the recommended daily amount.

Prioritise your sleep

We all know that sleep is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies, but did you know that a lack of it damages your immune system?

According to a recent survey by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI, 63 percent of people have reported that their sleep has been impacted by the pandemic.

Rhiannon said: “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of sleep and heightened stress has become more common across the UK population.

“Stress can be due to a multitude of factors, but focusing on the quality of your sleep and your diet can help with stress and in turn may support your immunity.”

To get to sleep sooner, Rihannon recommends no napping in the daytime, keeping your room cool on warm nights, and avoiding eating large meals or sugar close to bedtime.

Alleviate stress with a good exercise regime

Exercise makes you fit, strong and healthy, and it also supports your immune system by beating stress.

According to recent data from the ONS (Office of National Statistics), 56 percent of people have been feeling stressed or anxious about the effect that the pandemic is having on their life.

Rihannon said: “Stress can be due to a multitude of factors and many people choose to adopt exercise as a way to help manage or alleviate feelings of stress.

“Exercise also has the added benefits of helping to support your physical and mental health, which in turn can help with a healthy immune system.”

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