Strengthen your immune system against Covid with help of Vitamin D, zinc and pickles

Strengthen your immune system against Covid with help of Vitamin D, zinc and pickles

  • October 24, 2020

Winter is coming and a ­second wave of Covid-19 is already with us, so it has never been more important to strengthen your ­immunity.

Along with hand-­washing, masks and social ­distancing, it’s the best defence we have against the coronavirus.

A vaccine is still some way off and scientists warn that without one there is no hope of achieving the herd immunity needed to end the pandemic.

Boosting your own immunity makes sense, and studies show there is lots you can do.

A balanced diet is key, but there are certain nutrients that are particularly important – and scientists have been working hard to find the stars that can help in the Covid battle.

Take these simple steps to strengthen your immune system and keep you well through the tough winter ahead:


Vitamin D supplements can really help boost you

Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and muscles, is often known as the sunshine vitamin – giving a big clue as to why we don’t get enough in winter.

While it can be found in some foods, including oily fish, red meat and eggs, our bodies grab the majority of what they need from exposure to sunlight.

One in five Brits is deficient, with the number increasing as the nights draw in.

And that’s why the official advice is to consider taking a supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D
(the equivalent of 400IU) during winter.

But as well as keeping bones strong, this simple vitamin could also play a key role in the fight against Covid-19.

A super-study published earlier this year, which analysed results from 39 trials, found that taking 10mcg of the sunshine vitamin reduced the risk of respiratory infections by up to 23 per cent.

More recently, researchers at the University of Birmingham, who tested blood samples from 392 healthcare staff, found that 72per cent of those who were deficient in vitamin D had also caught Covid-19.

By contrast, only 51 per cent of those with good levels carried antibodies confirming they had been infected.

Covidence-UK, a study that uses monthly surveys of UK ­citizens to identify potential risk factors for Covid-19, has also ­identified a link.

Researchers are launching a randomised control trial to see if providing free vitamin D to people with low levels reduces their odds of catching the virus. To sign up and support the ­Covidence-UK search for ways to reduce the risk of Covid-19, visit


Pickles can help you battle against winer ailments

Some scientists believe it’s no ­accident that countries where cabbage and fermented ­vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are popular, have reported lower coronavirus death rates.

Dr Jean Bousquet, Honorary Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at Montpellier University, France, has calculated that every gram of fermented vegetables eaten each day reduces the risk of dying of Covid-19 by 35 per cent.

A similar pattern was seen in countries where a lot of cabbage is consumed, and Professor ­Bousquet believes the benefits are down to high levels of the ­antioxidant sulforaphane in them.

He adds: “Nutrition may play a role in the immune defence against Covid and may explain some of the differences seen in Covid across Europe. I’ve now changed my diet, and it includes raw cabbage three times a week, sauerkraut once a week and pickled vegetables.”


Dozens of studies have underlined the importance of zinc for strong ­immunity. And the World Health Organisation confirms it, saying: “Zinc is thought to help decrease ­susceptibility to acute lower ­respiratory tract infections by ­regulating various immune functions.”

Zinc can be found in shellfish, beans and lentils, but eight per cent of adults here in the UK do not get the ­recommended intake.

Research has shown that taking zinc within 24 hours of cold symptoms appearing cuts the duration of ­infections by a third.

Excitingly, studies have confirmed zinc inhibits Covid-19 – and there is evidence it may boost levels of ­interferon, a protein that helps our immune system identify threats.


Having a healthy gut is vital

The balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut has a big impact on ­immunity. Dr Bousquet’s research has also identified a link between fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt and kefir, and a lower rate of deaths from the virus.

A recent Chinese study discovered that probiotic drinks that contained a combination of lactobacillus bacteria reduced the risk of respiratory infections by 59 per cent.

Another study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, found that children who were given daily ­probiotic supplements werearound a third less likely to needantibiotics.


Orange juice and fresh orange help in the battle

A 150ml glass of orange juice provides more than 80 per cent of the immune-strengthening vitamin C that we need each day.

But there is growing scientific interest around another nutrient in orange juice, which could be even more important for our immunity.

Hesperidin, a micronutrient found in citrus fruit, slows the rate that viruses can replicate. Laboratory tests showed such strong antiviral activity that some scientists think it could be used to develop new drugs against dreaded influenza.

A recent study showed it locks on to key proteins on the Covid-19 virus, which could make it harder for ­infection to take hold.

Because the highest concentrations are found in the pith of fruit, juice will have more hesperidin in it than whole fruit. Shop-bought orange juice contains three times more hesperidin than juice squeezed at home.

Should you take a vitamin D supplement?

Should you take a vitamin D supplement?

  • October 23, 2020

By Kylie Alger, Commit to be Fit

Heading into the winter months signals the beginning of cold and flu season. Because of flu bugs and COVID, it’s imperative to maintain several positive health habits. These health habits include regular exercise, consuming healthy and nutritious foods, getting adequate sleep and potentially supplementing one’s diet with vitamins. These are often your first line of defense in keeping you healthy.

Emerging research is discovering that vitamin D is more important than ever, as it is both a vitamin and a hormone that is essential for nearly every bodily function.

Here are some fast facts about vitamin D and the role it plays in your health.

Sunshine vitamin

With October’s early snowfall this week, some of us have already begun bundling up and deciding to stay inside. But when we’re inside, we miss out on the important benefits of being outdoors. Often nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D mostly enters our bodies via the sun, which is absorbed by our skin and then converted into a usable form by cholesterol. Because we live in Iowa, we make little or no vitamin D in our skin during the winter months.

Supplement with vitamin D

About 50 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and that number is even higher for those of us who live in the Midwest. This is why it’s important to check your vitamin D levels with your physician. This can be done with a simple blood test. If you find that you are vitamin D deficient, your doctor may suggest a vitamin D supplement — especially during Iowa’s cold winter months.

Foods that are good sources of vitamin D include: cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, milk, yogurt, sardines, eggs, and cereals fortified with vitamin D.

Risks of being vitamin D deficient

Those who are deficient in vitamin D are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, age-related brain diseases, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders. Low vitamin D levels can contribute to depression, “winter blues” or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include, but are not limited to: tiredness, aches and pains, general sense of not feeling well, stress fractures, increased bone and/or muscle pain. Supplementing with vitamin D may help boost mood, the immune system and heart health.


While there is no treatment or surefire way to prevent COVID-19, some studies show a strong potential correlation between vitamin D supplementation and a decrease in the severity of COVID-19 effects. A study published in May 2020 found that those with vitamin D deficiencies have a higher risk of mortality from COVID-19. Results from the first ever randomized clinical control trial of its kind, found vitamin D supplementation can be effective in lowering the rate of COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions. These studies were published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.

Regardless of its impact on COVID-19, vitamin D is critical for overall health and well-being. Hopefully this information inspires you as you continue to take steps toward your healthiest self.

Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of the Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments:

By Kylie Alger, Commit to be Fit

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Multiple Franchise Openings on Horizon

Multiple Franchise Openings on Horizon

  • October 23, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Prime IV Hydration & Wellness (Prime IV) is a premier IV Hydration Therapy spa with proprietary formulas that help maximize and improve our clients’ overall health and wellness. Whether our customers are looking to boost their immune system, assist with weight loss, or seek relief from chronic pain, Prime IV is here to help on that journey. The medically licensed staff at Prime IV administer only the latest in cutting-edge IV therapies while our clients enjoy a clean, comfortable, and relaxed environment.  Prime IV recently celebrated two years of expansive growth and has opened multiple new franchises in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Florida, with other locations set to open in Nevada, Idaho, Ohio, South Carolina, Oregon, and Missouri soon.

“Since 2018, we’ve been committed to helping people take control of their health,” said Amy Neary, founder and CEO of Prime IV. “Our mission is to help our customers maximize their health with specialized IV protocols, cryotherapy and a DNA based supplement line.”

Regarding the business trajectory, Neary added, “Our goal is to be the leader in IV hydration and wellness in the U.S. and we are rapidly exceeding that! We are building a team of wonderful people who are just as dedicated to health as we are. I am so excited to see the future of Prime IV as these new territories and franchises open up.”

Prime IV: Rejuvenation and Wellness Through Science

Each Prime IV infusion starts with a full wellness evaluation by medically trained staff, before experts administer IV drips formulated with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids that noticeably increase energy, boost immune response, decrease inflammation, aid in muscle recovery, and improve overall hydration.

  • Immunity Armor: Contains high doses of Vitamin C, Zinc, a blend of B Vitamins, Magnesium & a push of Glutathione. A very effective pick-me-up for the immune system.
  • The Myers’ Cocktail: Named for the late Dr. John Myers, this blend of nutrients consists of Magnesium, Calcium B Vitamin blend, and Vitamin C. This cocktail can help relieve symptoms from a wide variety of medical conditions including depression, asthma, migraines, fibromyalgia and more.
  • Athletic Performance: We have two special cocktails; The Weekend Warrior helps relieve fatigue and renews energy to help get you through to the next workout.
  • The Champion is packed with B Vitamins, L-Carnitine, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Amino Acids that can enhance performance, shorten recovery time, soothe muscle aches and increase stamina.
  • The Glow: Our proprietary blend containing powerful doses of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Biotin, Vitamin C, L-Carnitine, Amino Acids and a push of Glutathione promote collagen production which reduces wrinkles, dry skin, blemishes and age spots.
  • Other formulas for Weight Loss, Altitude Sickness, Jetlag Recovery and more.

Prime IV’s wildly successful business model provides an attractive franchising opportunity, and the company offers a free comprehensive consultation to those interested in becoming Prime IV franchise owners.

Discover all that Prime IV has to offer online at For the latest updates or information on the exclusive monthly membership program, follow Prime IV on social media: Facebook, Instagram.

Media Contact:
Amy Neary, Founder and CEO
Phone 719-299-2990
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE Prime IV Hydration & Wellness

Comet Supercomputer Calculations Boost Understanding of Immune System

Comet Supercomputer Calculations Boost Understanding of Immune System

  • October 23, 2020

Oct. 23, 2020 — While researchers around the world race to develop an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine, a team from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego contributed to a study led by Vanderbilt Vaccine Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) on T cell receptors, which play a vital role in alerting the adaptive immune system to mount an attack on invading foreign pathogens including the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Thanks to the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) for supercomputing allocations, SDSC’s Comet was recently used to perform complex calculations on the receptor sequence data from sorted human T cells to allow scientists to better understand the size and diversity receptor repertoire in healthy individuals. The team’s findings were published last month in Cell Reports as a follow-up study to earlier findings about B cells published in the journal Nature last year.

“Being able to access Comet through an XSEDE allocation made us much more productive,” said Robert Sinkovits, SDSC’s director of scientific computing applications. “The larger memory nodes were also essential for some of the clustering calculations that could not have been completed on standard hardware.”

Both B cells and T cells are constituents of the adaptive immune system and form the second line of defense against viruses, bacteria, cancer, and other toxic pathogens that slip past the innate immune response. The adaptive immune system remembers the invading pathogen after first encounter and forms the basis of effective vaccines. To advance our understanding, the researchers sequenced receptors from the transcriptome of billions of cells to assess the somatic recombination of different gene segments that comprise the circulating B and T cell receptors from healthy Caucasian individuals. They found that T cell receptors, like B cell receptors, exhibit significantly higher overlap in different individuals than expected by chance.

In addition, the unprecedented scale of this sequencing project reveals that the size and diversity of immune repertoire are at least an order of magnitude larger than the estimation made from previous studies. This work is part of a broader effort supported by the Human Vaccines Project to decipher the components of the immune system, with the ultimate goal of understanding how to generate life-long protective immunity.

“Our most recent study puts us one step closer to truly understanding the extreme and beneficial diversity in the immune system, and identifying features of immunity that are shared by most people,” said James E. Crowe, Jr., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Now we continue to identify T cell receptors and antibodies that can be targets for vaccines and treatments that work more universally across populations.”

A primary aspect of the team’s ongoing research is focused on integrating the findings of these two studies toward the development of an effective vaccine against emerging and evolving threats. Crowe explained, “We are getting closer to being able to use these large databases of human immune molecules to rapidly discover natural molecules that can be used as biological drugs.”

Madhusudan Gujral, a senior bioinformatician at SDSC; Robert Sinkovits, SDSC’s director of scientific computing applications; and Cinque Soto, a Vanderbilt computational biologist and lead author of the study, share Crowe’s enthusiasm over the implications of this research and recognize the importance of access to high-performance computing resources, such as Comet, to make it possible.

“Being able to access Comet through an XSEDE allocation made us much more productive,” said Sinkovits. “The larger memory nodes were also essential for some of the clustering calculations that could not have been completed on standard hardware.

This work was supported by a grant from the Human Vaccines Project and institutional funding from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The authors acknowledge support from TN-CFAR grant (P30 AI110527). This work also used XSEDE, which is supported by NSF grant (ACI-1548562), and Comet supercomputer at SDSC, supported by NSF grant (ACI-1341698).

Source: Kimberly Mann Bruch, San Diego Supercomputer Center Communications

Nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, who has helped a long list of VIP clients boost their health and wellbeing, has shared her advice on how to use nutrition to support your immune system

Gabriela Peacock reveals how your diet can help you to stay healthy

  • October 23, 2020

There’s a distinct chill in the air, Halloween is just around the corner and pumpkin spiced lattes are back in coffee shops – there’s no doubt that fall has arrived.

And while there’s plenty to love about the change of weather, one thing none of us is looking forward to is the impending arrival of cold and flu season.

However hard we try to avoid it, during the winter months it almost seems inevitable that we’ll end up feeling tired, rundown and generally just lousy all round.

Which is why Gabriela Peacock believes now is the right time to start thinking about our immune health. 

Nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, who has helped a long list of VIP clients boost their health and wellbeing, has shared her advice on how to use nutrition to support your immune system

Nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, who has helped a long list of VIP clients boost their health and wellbeing, has shared her advice on how to use nutrition to support your immune system

The A-list nutritionist, who helps her clients – including the likes of TV star Piers Morgan and British royalty Princess Beatrice – boost their health and wellness, says this is especially important at a time that many of us are feeling stressed and anxious. 

She says: ‘Anything that increases stress will have a negative effect on our immunity, and stress is something that’s very hard to control at the moment.’

Gabriela explains that the capacity of our immune systems is impacted by multiple lifestyle factors, including emotional state, stress, smoking, physical activity and exercise levels, dietary habits and nutritional status.  

‘By supporting healthy habits in these areas, you can sustain a healthy immune system,’ she adds.

So what can we do to create healthy habits? And how does nutrition and diet play into this? Below, Gabriela has answered some of our key questions about how we can help support our immune systems this fall and winter.

As we approach cold and flu season, many of us are looking for ways to stay healthy and strong

As we approach cold and flu season, many of us are looking for ways to stay healthy and strong

Why should we focus on nutrition? 

Although at the moment it can feel hard to control what’s going on around us and to manage our stress levels, one thing we can control is our diet.

Gabriela points out that although good nutrition cannot prevent the pathogens that get you sick from entering your body, it can help you stay strong and healthy so when you are exposed to them you have the best chance to fight them off.  

She says: ‘Deficiency or insufficiency of any number of important nutrients that are key components of the immune response can lead to an impaired immune response.

‘For example, Vitamin D is known to modulate the immune response and historically deficiencies in Vitamin D have been linked to seasonal illness.’

The nutritionist has built up a range of high-quality supplements, GP Nutrition. Supplements are there for when we need that bit of extra nutritional support, but Gabriela points out that sometimes the first thing we can do is simply make a few changes to what we eat.  

Nutrition is a good place to start when considering immune health, and Gabriela recommends consuming a balanced diet that's rich in vitamins and minerals

Nutrition is a good place to start when considering immune health, and Gabriela recommends consuming a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals

What does good nutrition look like? 

Gabriela says the best way to promote good nutrition is to consume a balanced and healthy diet that supports balanced blood sugar levels.

The simplest way to do this is by creating protein-focused meals with a minimum of five vegetables per day and by trying to make your plate as colorful as possible. 

The nutritionist points out that you don’t need to radically overhaul your eating habits to better support your immune system, as even a few small tweaks can make a big difference.

She says: ‘If you push yourself too hard you increase your stress levels and it becomes a vicious cycle. You need to make realistic changes.’  

The following vitamins and nutrients are some of the most important for a healthy diet, so you can start by adding a few of the foods mentioned onto your plate each mealtime.   

One of the best ways to construct a healthy balanced diet is by trying to make your plate as colorful as possible with a range of vegetables

One of the best ways to construct a healthy balanced diet is by trying to make your plate as colorful as possible with a range of vegetables 

Vitamin D: We can often get all the Vitamin D our bodies need from sunlight, but in the colder darker months we may need some help from food sources. These include oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), red meat, egg yolks and fortified foods. 

Essential fatty acids: This includes omega-3s which are found in oily fish like mackerel, salmon or sardines. Or you can get them straight from their source, which means seaweed or algae. Nuts and seeds are also rich in omega-3s. 

Carotenoids: Found in red, yellow and orange plant foods, such as carrots, squash, sweet potato, turmeric, orange and tomatoes.

Flavonoids: Found in green, blue and purple plant foods, leafy greens, berries, artichoke, red onions, apples and peppermint.  

Zinc: Found in in red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, wholegrains, avocados, and berries.  

Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, broccoli, greens and peppers. 

Vitamin E: Found in nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables (broccoli and spinach), avocados and wild salmon. 

Vitamin A: Found in eggs, oily fish and dairy.

B-carotene: Found in bright orange/red/yellow plants like carrots, yellow peppers, yellow fruits like mango and apricot, and green leafy vegetables. 

Gabriela says that you don't need to make big changes to your diet to see an effect, as small tweaks can often make all the difference

Gabriela says that you don’t need to make big changes to your diet to see an effect, as small tweaks can often make all the difference

Although a good diet is the first step, if you’re struggling to provide your body with all the nutrients and vitamins it needs, Gabriela says it’s worth considering a supplement.

She points out that we can struggle to get enough Vitamin D through food alone, so she recommends that adults supplement their diet with at least 10 micrograms of Vitamin D during the fall and winter in temperate climes like the UK.  

During the wintry months, it might also be worth considering an all-round kit, such as the newly released GP Immunity, which contains a range of nutritional support designed to help you look after yourself from the inside out.  

Nutritional support from GP Immunity 

A day dose of GP Immunity includes:

  • 500% RDI of Vitamin D
  • 120% RDI of Zinc
  • 200% RDI of Vitamin C
  • 250% RDI of Vitamin B12
  • Daily probiotic
  • Pea protein 
  • Purple superfood

RDI = Recommended daily intake

Can supplements help?

Although Gabriela points out that there’s no need to take supplements all year round, she says they can be beneficial when we need a little help.

She says: ‘A lot of people ask me why supplements and why not just food? The reason is there are just so many stressors in our lives at the moment. 

‘If we were super happy and relaxed on the beach in the summer we wouldn’t need a supplement, but we are all so challenged at the moment.’ 

During the colder months, the nutritionist says her clients often come to her feeling tired and run down, which is when she may suggest supplements from her GP Nutrition range.

‘You don’t have to take them all the time,’ she says. ‘But over the winter when your immune system might be a little compromised, I recommend that all my patients take probiotics and a good quality multinutrient. 

‘I’m a great believer that you don’t need one supplement all year round. You need a supplement to support your lifestyle, which is why at this time of the year it’s a good idea to think about your immune system.’ 

Not only do long dark evenings leave many of us prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but the holiday season can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn can result in sleeplessness and low mood.

GP Immunity has been designed to take the fuss out of finding the right supplements

GP Immunity has been designed to take the fuss out of finding the right supplements

This is why Gabriela created GP Immunity, a handy grab-and-go kit that features essential vitamins and minerals to support you from the inside out. 

‘It has all the nutrients your body needs to re-balance,’ the nutritionist explains. ‘It will address everything from feeling a bit down to having low energy levels and sleeplessness.’

GP Immunity contains GP Nutrition’s bestselling GP Gold superfood drink, which is full of antioxidants and nutritious berries like aronia, as well as its Clean Me capsules packed with essential vitamins and minerals like Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Selenium.  

Gabriela adds: ‘It’s not just your classic antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It also has other ingredients that you find in superfoods that support the normal function of your immune system.’ 

There’s also a daily live cultures capsule to support a healthy gut, which Gabriela explains is great for digestion and will help you break down and absorb the nutrients in your diet. 

Can I still treat myself? 

The simple answer is YES! Gabriela’s approach is all about being realistic and not depriving yourself.

Treats can contribute to a healthy diet, as coffee, dark chocolate and red wine all contain anthocyanins, which have antioxidant effects.

The key is moderation. For example: 

  • A couple of glasses of wine is fine but drinking alcohol in excess can put a strain on our immune systems.
  • Limit cups of coffee to two or three a day, and always drink it with food. 
  • Try to stick to dark chocolate as and aim for a high percentage of cacao. 

What else can I do to support my immune system?

Aside from nutrition, Gabriela says there are several simple steps we can all take to help boost our immune health.

1. Sleep: Do your best to get seven or more hours of good quality sleep each night. 

This will benefit your emotional state and stress levels, as well as appetite and energy levels, all of which have an impact on immune health.

2. Reduce stress: Keep work in a separate room if you are working from home. Embrace hobbies that reduce stress like walking, dancing, or cooking. 

Also be kind to yourself – this is a challenging time and all you can do is your best.

3. Stop smoking: This one may sound like a no-brainer, but stopping smoking or cutting down can help promote a strong immune system.

4. Stay active: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. 

Aim for at least a 30-minute walk every day.

5. Support gut health: Take a daily probiotic (or live cultures capsule) to support a healthy gut microbiome.

What’s in GP Immunity?  

GP Nutrition has designed GP Immunity to make it easy for you to help your body receive the vitamins and nutrients it needs to support a healthy immune system.

You don’t need to spend hours researching or shopping for multiple different supplements as it’s all in one box!

In each box you’ll find nutritional support for either 7, 14 or 28 days. Each daily dose of GP Immunity includes:

  • GP GOLD Super smoothie sachet – packed with phytonutrient and antioxidant rich superfoods that help fight oxidative stress and protect against free radicals. 
  • Bespoke GP Multinutrient capsule – to support your body’s defences with high-levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc and Selenium. 
  • Digestive Support Capsule – to support digestion and metabolism, by maintaining stable blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 
  • Clean Blend Capsule – to support and maintain the liver’s natural detox function. 
  • Probiotic Capsule – to nourish you gut, healthy gut bacteria is important for optimum immune function.

Think GP Immunity could work for you? Visit GP Nutrition to learn more about the supplements and see how you could save 30 per cent on your kit.  

12 Simple Ways To Balance Your Immune System This Winter

12 Simple Ways To Balance Your Immune System This Winter

  • October 23, 2020

“Immune ‘boosting’ is a phrase that I really can’t get along with,” says leading nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert, Amelia Freer, when asked about the best immune-boosting advice for the coming winter months. In fact, according to Freer, we’ve been approaching it all wrong — and when it comes to our immune system, the aim isn’t to boost, but rather to balance it.

Read more: Feeling Low? Here Are 8 Ways To Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder

An overactive immune system can result in auto-immune disease, or a significant widespread inflammatory state, while an under-active or otherwise compromised immune system can increase our risk of infection — neither of which is ideal. “In the simplest of terms,” says Freer, “we want to be able to switch our immune function on appropriately, and then switch it off again when the infection risk has passed.”

As for how we can do this best, Freer suggests nurturing and supporting our overall health and wellbeing. “There are various nutrients that our body requires to mount and suppress an appropriate immune response,” she comments. “The best way to get these is through eating a balanced, nutritious, and abundant diet, so including a wide variety of different whole foods into our diets throughout the winter is a great place to start.”

A variety of fresh green vegetables is key.


Load up on dark-green vegetables

“First up is dark-green vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach, rocket, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli. They all provide a variety of beneficial phytonutrients, fibre, vitamin A, magnesium, folate and more. If there is one thing to add to our diets, it is this group of vegetables. Aim for at least one portion per day (remembering that when cooked, they tend to shrink considerably in terms of volume, making it easier to achieve this target).”

Opt for citrus fruits

“Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C and perfect for the coldest winter months — a little bit of concentrated sunshine just when we need it most. I particularly love the month or two that blood oranges are available [around December to April] — I have one almost every day when I can, as the most deliciously simple dessert.”

Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins can provide, “a little bit of concentrated sunshine just when we need it most,” according to Freer.

© voloshin311

Make room for mackerel

“This is a cheap and readily available oily fish and a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to regulate inflammation in the body. It also contains some food-based vitamin D, as well as protein, and it’s a great speedy choice for lunches. Top tip: look out for unsmoked, frozen mackerel fillets in the freezer section of some supermarkets. I’ve found that it’s the best fish to cook from frozen, and contains less salt than the smoked version.”

Swap in some squash or pumpkin

“There are a huge variety of orange-fleshed pumpkins to enjoy over winter. They provide a source of vitamin A, which, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is best absorbed alongside some healthy fats. I therefore tend to slow-roast my squash and pumpkins in a little olive oil, and then enjoy as they come, blended into sauces or soups, or tossed into salads with rocket, radicchio, some toasted hazelnuts and crumbled feta.”

Balance your diet with Brazil nuts

“Brazil nuts are a key source of the micronutrient selenium, which is an important mineral for optimal immune response. Just four or five Brazil nuts per week can meet our selenium requirements. It is, however, one of the few whole food nutrients that we can over-consume, so it’s best to mix things up and eat just a few each week alongside a variety of other nuts and seeds, too.”

Protein and pulses are important for enabling the body to mount an appropriate immune response.

© Adél Békefi

Choose chickpeas or other pulses

“I adore pulses in all shapes and sizes, and I find them a convenient source of protein — I aim to have roughly a palm-sized portion of protein at each meal of the day. Protein is important for enabling the body to mount an appropriate immune response, as well as for repair and growth of our body’s tissues, and for appetite and blood-sugar regulation. I buy pulses in bulk in jars and add them to soups, make them into hummus and other dips, throw them into curries and stews, or eat them cold with some olive oil, lemon and a few chopped herbs.”

Switch to shellfish

“Shellfish is a good source of zinc and vitamin B12, and mussels and scallops are in season over the winter months. They are a bit of a treat, but it’s worth making the effort to cook them once in a while. Do check that they are sustainably sourced and if you’re unsure about cooking them yourself, it might be a good option to consider ordering if eating out.”

Start soaking your own oats

“Rolled oats are a great choice and can provide not only a warming and delicious porridge breakfast, but also a hefty dose of fibre, too. Soaking oats overnight can help to make the nutrients they contain more absorbable, as well as speeding up the cooking time.”

Eating eggs regularly is a simple way to introduce immunity balancing benefits into your diet.

© Jody Louie took this picture

Introduce more eggs

“Eggs are such a versatile and useful ingredient to have on hand for quick meals and speedy snacks. They are also a source of vitamin B12, a little vitamin D, vitamin A, protein and some are even fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are important for balanced immune function.”

Drink lots of water

“Maintaining a good level of hydration can help to keep our mucosal barriers moist, such as those in our mouth and the lining of our nose. This might sound strange, but hydration of these tissues helps to support the natural immune function that exists within them, warding off infection before it has a chance to enter the body. Plus water won’t spoil your appetite for the abundance of nourishing whole foods awaiting you at your next meal.”

Good hydration supports muscles and skin tissues, enabling them to better fight off infection.

© Dulin

Increase your vitamin D

“The only supplement that is recommended for everyone to consider over the winter months is vitamin D. In some countries, the sunlight is not strong enough between October and early March for our skin to make enough vitamin D to meet our requirements.”

Optimise other aspects of your lifestyle

“I know it’s been said a thousand times before, but it really is what works: wash your hands, prioritise sleep, actively respond to and manage stress, move regularly, exercise, moderate alcohol and avoid smoking. It’s not original, but it is effective.”

More from British Vogue:

Fruit juice strengthens immune system, aid digestion – Dietician – Punch Newspapers

Fruit juice strengthens immune system, aid digestion – Dietician – Punch Newspapers

  • October 23, 2020

Dayo Ojerinde

A principal dietician with the National Orthopedic Hospital Igbobi, Mrs. Adejoke Adeniji, has listed the benefits of fruit juice consumption to include strengthening of the immune system, aiding of digestion, weight loss, as well as the prevention of allergies and ailments from entering the body system.

Adeniji, at the 2nd Annual Chivita World Juice Day event organised by CHI Limited in Lagos, said the consumption of fruit juice boosts the body’s immune system and promotes everyday wellness. The event was themed, ‘Fruit Juice: The Smart Secret of Boosting Immunity.’

“Consumption of fruit juice is a valuable source of nutrients that are bioactive and can support the immune system by fighting free radicals and also reducing fatigue.

“While not postulating that fruit juice can prevent or protect against COVID-19, available facts show that drinking a glass of fruit juice daily can boost vitamin-c and folate intake and, by so doing, support the optimal functioning of the body’s immune system,” Adeniji said.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Deepanjan Roy, stressed the need for fruit juice consumption as a smart way of supporting immune function during the COVID19 era and beyond.

He said while the global pandemic had challenged systems everywhere, it had also raised the social consciousness on healthy diets and lifestyles.

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Three surprising foods that fuel your immune system

Three surprising foods that fuel your immune system

  • October 23, 2020

Farmed salmon has nutrients can can protect the body’s immune system with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Cold and flu season, combined with an ongoing pandemic, is motivating many Americans to do everything possible to support immune health. Fortunately, simple lifestyle habits, like a healthy diet, can make a big difference in strengthening the body’s defense system. But what foods are best – and why?

When it comes to immune-boosting foods, most people immediately turn to orange juice for a quick fix of vitamin C. “While it is true that citrus fruit helps support the immune system, there are many other foods that offer an impressive profile of nutrients believed to maintain strong immunity,” says registered dietitian Sheri Kasper. Here are three surprising, dietitian-recommended foods that can help ward off illness this cold and flu season.

1. Farmed salmon
Farmed salmon offers outstanding nutrition that can help protect against everything from heart disease to depression. Specifically, farmed salmon supports the immune system thanks to two key nutrients that are uncommon in many other foods: vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

While vitamin D is often connected to bone health, emerging research out of Boston University suggests that it may also be vital to proper immune function. Few foods are naturally high in vitamin D, but a serving of farmed salmon offers nearly one-third of daily recommended needs. Omega-3 fatty acids, abundantly found in farmed salmon, are highly anti-inflammatory and support the immune system by reducing chronic inflammation. Kasper recommends choosing farmed salmon from Chile because it is sustainably raised, high in omega-3 fats and does not contain antibiotics or mercury.

2. Yogurt
Yogurt and other fermented foods contain healthy bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are well-known for supporting digestive or “gut” health by preventing overgrowth of bad bacteria. But maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is also believed to boost the immune system.

“Most people do not realize that about 70 percent of your body’s immune system is in your gut,” says Kasper. In addition to containing probiotics, yogurt is also one of the few foods that is almost always fortified with vitamin D, which offers additional immune support. Look for yogurt labeled as containing “Live and Active Cultures” and steer clear of yogurt that contains a lot of added sugar. Try plain yogurt and sweeten by adding fresh fruit and a small drizzle of honey.

3. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that support the immune system. One example is vitamin C, which encourages the production of the white blood cells that are responsible for defending the body against pathogens.

Red bell peppers contain almost three times more vitamin C than oranges. They are also loaded with vitamin A and the antioxidant beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body, when needed.

Vitamin A is important in maintaining the natural mucus barriers located in the eyes, gut and other parts of the body. These barriers are designed to trap bacteria and are essential to optimal immunity. Be sure to choose red peppers because they have significantly more vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene compared to green bell peppers.

While a healthy diet cannot prevent seasonal colds, the flu or other viral illnesses, a combination of the right foods, plenty of sleep, regular exercise and a balanced lifestyle will arm your body’s defenses and may help minimize the length and severity of illness. For more information about salmon and wellness, visit


Plaing In Nature Boosts Children's Immune Systems Says New Study

Plaing In Nature Boosts Children’s Immune Systems Says New Study

  • October 23, 2020
Kids Microbiome Study

Photo: Stock Photos from PURINO/Shutterstock

Playing outside is an important and healthy part of childhood. Away from screens, children need time to breathe fresh air and get dirty as they explore the world around them. Many parents and teachers believe that getting a bit messy in nature is beneficial to children’s immune systems. A recent study by the University of Helsinki has proved this parental folk wisdom to be true. Focused on pre-school aged children, the study found that playing on a forest floor drastically boosted children’s immune systems and microbiomes—both critical for overall health.

Published in the journal Science Advances, the study focused on daycare centers serving children ages three to five in the Finnish cities of Lahti and Tampere. Three of the daycare centers had playgrounds with natural, forest earth. Three had gravel yards, which they maintained as a control throughout the study. The experimental cohorts of children attended another four centers which had previously had gravel playgrounds but were converted to forest earth for research. Scientists collected biological samples from each child before the study, then again after 28 days of sustained play in their respective environments.

The researchers were shocked by the results seen in their post-study biological samples. The children with the newly forested playgrounds showed results close to those of children who had played on forest floor before the study. Their gut and skin microbiomes were improved, and their blood showed more anti-inflammatory proteins—suggesting a stronger immune system. These results offer a hopeful path for children and adults in city environments—which suffer from pollutants and a lack of (helpful) bacterial diversity in the environment—to improve their microbiomes. Urban children with less outdoor access may especially benefit from changes in schoolyards such as those used in the study.

You can visit Science Advances to learn more about the study and its findings. And if you’re interested in why microbiomes are so important to your and your children’s health, The Guardian has a thoroughly fascinating article all about the human microbiome.

A recent study of young children in Finland found that changing a playground from gravel to forest earth distinctly improved the immune systems and microbiomes of the preschool subjects.

Immun System Benefits of Nature

Photo: Stock Photos from RAWPIXEL.COM/Shutterstock

Researchers found that after 28 days, children who had just began playing in their newly forested yards had greatly improved biological samples, closer to those of children who had long had natural space.

Children Play Outside In Forest

Photo: Stock Photos from VAGENGEIM/Shutterstock

These findings spur hope that more forested recreational space can help boost the (often weaker) microbiomes, immune systems, and general health of urban children, perhaps even to the level of their more rural peers.

Kids Playing Outside in the Dirt

Photo: Stock Photos from ESB PROFESSIONAL/Shutterstock

h/t: [IFL Science]

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Daycares in Finland Built a ‘Forest Floor’, And It Changed Children’s Immune Systems

  • October 22, 2020

Playing through the greenery and litter of a mini forest’s undergrowth for just one month may be enough to change a child’s immune system, according to a small new experiment. 


When daycare workers in Finland rolled out a lawn, planted forest undergrowth such as dwarf heather and blueberries, and allowed children to care for crops in planter boxes, the diversity of microbes in the guts and on the skin of young kids appeared healthier in a very short space of time. 

Compared to other city kids who play in standard urban daycares with yards of pavement, tile and gravel, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds at these greened-up daycare centres in Finland showed increased T-cells and other important immune markers in their blood within 28 days. 

“We also found that the intestinal microbiota of children who received greenery was similar to the intestinal microbiota of children visiting the forest every day,” says environmental scientist Marja Roslund from the University of Helsinki.

paivakodin pihatOne daycare before (left) and after introducing grass and planters (right). (University of Helsinki)

Prior research has shown early exposure to green space is somehow linked to a well-functioning immune system, but it’s still not clear whether that relationship is causal or not.

The experiment in Finland is the first to explicitly manipulate a child’s urban environment and then test for changes in their micriobiome and, in turn, a child’s immune system. 


While the findings don’t hold all the answers, they do support a leading idea – namely that a change in environmental microbes can relatively easily affect a well-established microbiome in children, giving their immune system a helping hand in the process.

The notion that an environment rich in living things impacts on our immunity is known as the ‘biodiversity hypothesis’. Based on that hypothesis, a loss of biodiversity in urban areas could be at least partially responsible for the recent rise in immune-related illnesses.

“The results of this study support the biodiversity hypothesis and the concept that low biodiversity in the modern living environment may lead to an un-educated immune system and consequently increase the prevalence of immune-mediated diseases,” the authors write

The study compared the environmental microbes found in the yards of 10 different urban daycares looking after a total of 75 kids between the ages of 3 and 5.

Some of these daycares contained standard urban yards with concrete and gravel, others took kids out for daily nature time, and four had their yards updated with grass and forest undergrowth.


Over the proceeding 28 days, kids in these last four daycares were given time to play in their new backyard five times a week.

When researchers tested the microbiota of their skin and gut before and after the trial, they found improved results compared to the first group of kids that played in daycares with less greenery for the same amount of time.

Even in that short duration of the study, researchers found microbes on the skin and guts of children who regularly played in green spaces had increased in diversity – a feature which is tied to an overall healthier immune system.

Their results largely matched the second group of kids at daycares who had outings for daily nature time.

Among kids who got outside, playing in the dirt, the grass and among the trees, an increase in a microbe called gammaproteobacteria appeared to boost the skin’s immune defence, as well as increase helpful immune secretions in the blood and reduce the content of interleukin-17A, which is connected to immune-transmitted diseases. 

“This supports the assumption that contact with nature prevents disorders in the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies,” says Sinkkonen. 


The results aren’t conclusive and they will need to be verified among larger studies around the world. Still, the benefits of green spaces appear to go beyond our immune systems.

Research shows getting outside is also good for a child’s eyesight, and being in nature as a kid is linked to better mental health. Some recent studies have even shown green spaces are linked to structural changes in the brains of children.

What’s driving these incredible results is not yet clear. It could be linked to changes to the immune system, or something about breathing healthy air, soaking in the sun, exercising more or having greater peace of mind.

Given the complexities of the real world, it’s really hard to control for all the environmental factors that impact our health in studies.

While rural children tend to have fewer cases of asthma and allergies, the available literature on the link between green spaces and these immune disorders is inconsistent.

The current research has a small sample size, only found a correlation, and can’t account for what children were doing outside daycare hours, but the positive changes seen are enough for scientists in Finland to offer some advice.

“It would be best if children could play in puddles and everyone could dig organic soil,” encourages environmental ecologist Aki Sinkkonen, also from the University of Helsinki.

“We could take our children out to nature five times a week to have an impact on microbes.”

The changes are simple, the harms low, and the potential benefits widespread.

Bonding with nature as a kid is also good for the future of our planet’s ecosystems. Studies show kids who spend time outdoors are more likely to want to become environmentalists as adults, and in a rapidly changing world, that’s more important than ever.

Just make sure everyone’s up to date on their tetanus vaccinations, Sinkkonen advises.

The study was published in the Science Advances


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