How to Boost Your Immunity

Here's how to protect your body from 'you know what'.

Unless you're lucky enough to live in Taiwan or New Zealand, the picture isn't particularly rosy. So, to be sensible and minimise the risks, there are steps we can all take now to boost our immunity:

Sleep - Adequate sleep (between 6 to 9 hours each night, according to the NHS) is the “bedrock of your immune system”, according to Dr Jenna Macciochi, an immunologist at Sussex University. During sleep, our bodies produce melatonin, which helps to build new immune cells. “If you’re not sleeping, no other lifestyle measure will make much difference,” she says. However, in reality, keeping to a healthy sleep schedule can be difficult in lockdown. To help, Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School, recommends sticking to a rigorous routine, avoiding caffeine after lunch, and only drinking alcohol in moderation. If you're working from home, he recommends a “fake commute” in which you take a 10 to 15 minute walk each morning and evening to “transition your mind from work to home time”. And then steer clear of your smartphone, tablet or PC. Their blue-light is not helpful!

Diet - A colourful, low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables will nourish your body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, helping you to fight infection, say doctors. Broccoli, red peppers, and blueberries are particularly recommended.

“Have the fruits and vegetables whole and ideally with the skin on as this contains essential fibre that feeds the healthy bugs in your digestive tract, crucial to fighting infection,” advises Dr Claire Bailey, GP and author of The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book.

Exercise - Moving around throughout the day strengthens your lymphatic system, which is essential to help your immune cells perform their surveillance function on unfriendly viruses. “Regular and often is the key,” says Dr Macciochi. So, get up, move around, do a few stretches or go for a 5 minute stroll - every hour or so. It works wonders for your health and, if you're stuck at a desk, it's great for productivity too.

Vitamins - Vitamin D supplements reduce your risk of respiratory infection, according to an analysis of 25 studies published in the British Medical Journal. Another study, which pooled data from 16 clinical trials involving 7,400 people, found that taking vitamin D supplements reduces your risk of catching at least one respiratory infection - including influenza and pneumonia - by a third, with benefits seen within three weeks. More recently, evidence is piling up to suggest that vitamin D - the sunshine nutrient - will help defend you against Covid-19. In contrast, there’s little evidence that Vitamin C prevents infection - but it can shorten your symptoms if you’re infected. Oranges, kiwi fruits, spinach, grapefruit, and cauliflower are useful here, as are supplements.

Water - Drinking plenty of water is “critically important and vastly overlooked”, according to immunologist Dr Ross Walton. The NHS recommends six to eight glasses a days which, frankly, is slightly meaningless. Go for at least 1.5 litres - but much more if you take vigorous exercise. Remember, dehydration damages the mucus layer in your respiratory tract, which contains important antibodies. Tea and coffee aren’t water! They're diuretics: meaning they quicken the body’s expulsion of water through urine.

Source: Telegraph