How to boost your immunity to help you beat the bugs

There are many foods with vitamin C or immunity-boosting chemicals.  PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
There are many foods with vitamin C or immunity-boosting chemicals. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Immunity may be compromised by internal and environmental stressors. Building and maintaining robust immunity for short- and long-term resilience involves supporting the immune system at a cellular level, tissue level and systems level, writes Deanna Copland.

Deanna Copland
Deanna Copland
The infective bugs that cause colds, flus and other illnesses are always and have always been around us, but when faced with a pandemic it is a timely reminder to ensure you are supporting a healthy immune system wherever possible.

While some people catch just about everything going around, others seem to get through unscathed. So much of this comes down to your immune resilience. Your immune system is a complex collection of organs, cells and processes designed to fight off invading micro-organisms such as cold and flu viruses. The healthier your immunity, the less severely the sniffles, coughs and other cold and flu symptoms will affect you. And the stronger your immune response, the faster all those symptoms subside.

To support a healthy immune system, we need to be getting the foundations right. Here are some of my naturopathic tips:

1. Daily movement

Get outdoors in the fresh air to get vitamin D from the sun and support mental wellbeing. You could do a workout in a park or meet a friend for a walk. A moderate to challenging workout three times a week has been shown to enhance immunity. Intensive training can lead to chronic inflammation so isn’t recommended.

2. Adequate sleep

Aim for seven to nine hours’ sleep per night, for adults. This is when our body does most of its repair work. Less than six hours per night impacts the adaptive immune response.

3. Healthy weight

A body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 creates chronic inflammation (a doctor or personal trainer can work out this number for you).

4.Fresh fruit and vegetables

Capsicums, lemon juice and kiwifruit are good sources of vitamin C so could be added to a snack platter for afternoon tea.

5. Garlic

Fresh garlic bulbs are best so can be added to a dressing for a salad, in hummus or used in soups and curries.

6. Immune boost

Include mushrooms, onions, turmeric, thyme and oregano in meals for their immune-boosting chemicals.

7. Inflammatory foods

Reduce deep-fried or high-sugar foods. Sugar depletes minerals in the body and raises blood sugar levels, making us more prone to infection.

8. Vitamins and minerals

Research shows that adequate vitamin D and zinc, as well as selenium, can improve your response when exposed to infections.

It can be worthwhile speaking to a naturopath, doctor or pharmacist to see if these are right for you

9. Chronic stress

Chronic stress negatively impacts immune defences. Social support interventions and meditation reduce immune dysfunction.



Please provide the peer reviewed, scientific evidence to support the story.

Probably to many to list. I suggest you look for it yourself and report back anything that you find that is contrary to what would appear to be excellent advice. You can try this search which is full of peer reviewed studies and the effects of eating a plant based diet on the immunity system - spoiler alert - it's mostly good.
Example from one such study-
The number of people in Australia who follow vegetarian or plant-based diets is growing rapidly. People might choose to be vegetarian for ethical, cultural or health-related reasons. While not all vegetarians are necessarily following a healthy diet, research shows vegetarianism can have many benefits for health. One we're learning more about is its potential to strengthen our immune systems.