With less than three months to Christmas, the excitement for office parties, family get-togethers and shopping mall chaos is growing. And understandably so, with the past couple of years’ celebrations tainted by restrictions and lockdowns, it seems social occasions like Christmas are more of a priority to us this year than ever before. But as we look to shake off the social shackles of the past, there still appears to be some unease when it comes to socializing, whether it be the concern of catching something before the event, or the worry of post-event sickness. So, knowing how to boost your immunity becomes imperative in preparation for silly season.
Here, Nuzest nutritionist, Lauren Parchi, shares her top five tips to boost your immunity:
1. Eat Nutritiously
Good nutrition and immunity are intrinsically linked. For the immune system to function optimally we need to not only ensure we are eating enough food but that we are eating a varied diet. While one part of our immune system is in constant flow, the other only activates, when for example we come into contact with a virus. In this instance, additional energy is required, and the body utilizes carbohydrates, proteins or fats, either from diet or its stores, to fuel cells in the immune system, and several vitamins and minerals are required to extract this energy.
When it comes to knowing how to boost your immunity, Lauren suggests consuming a balanced diet of wholegrains, fruits and veggies (the more colourful the better!), proteins and healthy fats to help boost your daily diet. Fermented foods like yoghurt, miso, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut are also beneficial as they contain probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to better our body’s immune response – but they should be eaten daily to reap the full benefits.
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep, Regularly
The amount and quality of sleep also impacts our immune system, so if we want to help our bodies to fight illness, then we need to make sure sleep is a priority.
Poor inconsistent sleep over time will affect immune function and increase our risk of illness. To get our immune system back to full working order sooner, a period of extended rest is recommended verses just a couple of good night’s sleep in the hope of a quick fix.
Sleep helps recharge the system and increases levels of cells that fight off disease. Being sleep-deprived can mean a rise in stress hormone levels, which can increase the chances of becoming sick. Try to get in at least eight hours of sleep per day.
There are many great ways to bolster you sleep hygiene, and building a positive bedtime ritual, such as a cup of herbal tea with your favourite book before lights out, can help to ensure you’re getting the best night’s rest possible, reduce the risk of illness and boost recovery if you become sick.
3. Be Aware of Stress Levels
Interestingly short-term stress, which lasts minutes or hours, appears to intensify the immune response. This ties back to our evolutionary history when short-term stress may have stemmed from injury from a predator. On the flip side, long-term stress from modern life (family, work, personal), can last for days, months or even years, and can negatively impact immune function. “High levels of stress can deplete the body of nutrients such as magnesium. Learning how to better manage stress and ensuring we are replacing any lost nutrients is vital,” says Lauren.
Lifestyle changes that reduce our stress levels include adequate sleep, eating a healthy balanced diet, moderate exercise, gratitude, building a strong social support network around you, and calming activities, such as yoga, meditation, music, art, hiking or fishing. Being sensitive to stress levels could be the most vital component in your immunity toolkit.
4. Get Your Exercise In
Like stress, duration and intensity are major factors when it comes to the effects of physical activity on immunity. They can be both acute (short term) and chronic (long term). Exercise, at a regular moderate or vigorous pace, lasting less than an hour per session reduces inflammation and increases our immunosurveillance, the process by which the immune system looks for bacteria, viruses and precancerous cells.
Higher intensity, prolonged endurance-type physical exercise such as that practiced by professional athletes or marathon trainers is linked to inflammation and immune dysfunction, which can last from hours to days post-exercise, increasing the risks of upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu.
Evidence indicates that 20-60 minutes of exercise most days could help reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by 40-50 per cent. Exercise won’t totally prevent you from getting sick but your immune system will be more likely to combat an infection than if you didn’t exercise at all.
5. Take A Good Quality Multi-Nutrient Supplement Daily
To ensure you are getting the right nutrients daily to support your immune system you may want to consider taking a nutritional supplement. Both vitamin C and D are commonly thought of when battling colds, but these are not the only important nutrients. Knowing how to boost your immunity involves incorporating a multi-nutrient into your daily routine, such as Nuzest’s Good Green Vitality allows you to reap the benefits of a range of nutrients that work together for optimal results.
Nuzest’s Good Green Vitality is a multi-nutrient supplement that contains over 75 ingredients providing your body with a combination of nutrients that work synergistically together to support your immune system.
If you are taking multiple nutritional supplements or regular medication, it is recommended to consult a health care practitioner to provide individual advice regarding supplementation and what is appropriate for you.