At this time of uncertainty, the possibility of an uncertain amount of time self-isolating and a lot of questions left unanswered, we would like to provide positive, easy and effective ways to support and boost your immune system during this Corona virus pandemic.
This is general advice, not intended to replace any advice given by the NHS or health professionals.
Let’s kick off with…
A whopping 70% of the immune system is located in our gastrointestinal tract aka the GUT. The gut is populated by beneficial bacteria (think the stuff that’s advertised in pots of Yakult), collectively called the microbiome. These little guys play an essential role in defence again pathogens, metabolism and the formation of nutrients that have antioxidant and immune enhancing properties.
In short, our gut health is key to supporting our immune system and our microbiome is our own internal army so to speak. Part of its’ role is as security team to our intestinal wall, contributing significantly to its barrier function. It achieves this through space occupation (crowding out the bad stuff), secretion of anti-microbial chemicals and supporting gut integrity.
So how can we boost our own gut health and in turn support our own immunity?
1. Regularly eat probiotic-rich food: kefir, natural yogurt, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi and drink kombucha. You can now readily get these foods from the supermarket and good news they have a great shelf life. If your feeling more adventurous you can have a go making them yourself. Recipe’s coming soon!
2. Feed the microbiome with fibre-rich foods (aim for 20g per day) such as cruciferous veg (cauli, broccoli, cabbage etc), onions, garlic, leeks, flaxseeds and whole grains.
3. Keep your intestinal wall happy and healthy. At a mere 1-cell thick, if it gets damaged, it will allow pathogenic bacteria and foreign organisms into your bloodstream. Your gut bacteria protect your mucosal wall but on top of this, a diet rich in micronutrients and amino acids maintain the integrity of this delicate wall. Vegetable and bone broths are packed with healing amino acid L-glutamine maintain its health helping reduce inflammation and stops unwanted particles passing through this one cell thick barrier.
4. Be happy to keep your microbiome happy! One of the ways friendly bacteria works is to crowd out unwanted bacteria. But if you have a poor diet and lifestyle their colonise will reduce in size. Stress, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, smoking all have a damaging effect, so try and keep to a minimum. Your microbiome is also affected by overtraining so make sure you aren’t overdoing it and get plenty of rest and sleep!