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.

© SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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:

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter

  • October 22, 2020

When the days get short and the weather gets chilly, the last thing you want is to be slowed down by a cold. Giving your immune system the support it needs can help give your body a fighting chance against illnesses like the common cold and flu (have you gotten your flu shot yet?). Here’s how.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Herbaland’s gummies are gelatin- and sugar-free. | Herbaland

How Do You Boost Your Immune System?

The body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria is a healthy lifestyle. This looks like enough sleep, regular exercise, frequent hand-washing, avoiding smoking, reducing stress, and a healthy diet. What they say about vitamin C’s ability to help fight colds is true—but it’s not the only important nutrient. Vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc play key roles in maintaining a strong immune system.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can weaken the immune system, so it’s important to ensure that you’re eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But, many still struggle with doing that. If you suspect that you’re not getting enough, then daily supplements or superfood powders made from whole food ingredients can help meet your body’s needs. As always, consult your doctor before starting any new supplement. Here are some of our recommendations:

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
The Immune Plus Gummies for Adults are made with echinacea and elderberry. | Herbaland

1. HerbaLand

Taking your daily vitamins can be easy to forget, but it can be critical going into cold and flu season. Founded in 2009, Canadian brand Herbaland saw a gap in the gummy vitamin market. So, they jumped in and made gummy vitamins that are vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, palm oil derivative-free, nut-free, halal, and kosher. Plus, they made them taste good enough to mistake for candy and ensure that their ingredients are sustainable, plant-based, and organic whenever possible. The company also ensures that its production processes are as kind to the planet as possible, from seeking zero-waste packaging solutions to its Eco-Forming process for depositing gummies into steel molds.

Herbaland’s Immune Plus Gummies for Adults are made with antioxidant-rich ingredients that help fight cold symptoms while giving your immune system a boost. These vegan gummies (no gelatin here!) contain a powerful blend of vitamin C, elderberry, and echinacea, which work together to support the body’s ability to fight colds. These sugar-free gummies have a raspberry lemon flavor, making taking your daily vitamins practical, especially compared to regular pills and capsules.

Along with keeping your immune system in check, it’s important to ensure that you’re taking your vitamins. Enter the D3 & B12 Gummies for Adults. These sugar-free gummies contain vitamin D3, a powerhouse that helps support the immune system, boost energy, and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin B12, which needs to be supplemented on a plant-based diet, plays a key role in the metabolism of every single cell in the body and red blood cell production. They’re sugar-free and have a delicious raspberry flavor.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Your Super makes superfood mixes for water or your smoothie. | Your Super

2. Your Super

The story behind Your Super is personal. Co-founder Kristel de Groot began making superfood mixes for her fiancé Michael after he was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. The more the pair learned about the connection between diet and good health, the more determined they became to share their knowledge of healthy, whole food ingredients with the world. Your Super makes superfood blends—inspired by the ones Kristel made for Michael while he was in recovery—made with five to six organic, plant-based ingredients and no sweeteners, stevia, artificial flavors, fillers, preservatives, or additives.

The Immunity Bundle boosts the body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria with four super-charged superfood mixes. Here’s what’s in it:

Super Green mix: Like an instant green juice, made with wheatgrass, barley grass, moringa, baobab, spirulina, and chlorella. One scoop is the equivalent of a handful of greens and it’s packed with micronutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and iron.

Forever Beautiful mix: A fruity blend for glowing skin made with antioxidant-rich ingredients like chia seed, acai, maqui, acerola, maca, and blueberry.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Mix Golden Mellow with frothed plant-based milk for a latte. | Your Super

Golden Mellow mix: A slightly spicy blend of inflammation-fighting and stress-reducing ingredients: turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, lucuma, and black pepper.

Magic Mushroom mix: A chocolatey drink that helps support the immune system and boost your mood with cacao, chaga and reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, lucuma, and cinnamon.

This bundle also comes with a digital copy of Everyday Super Smoothies, featuring more than 25 recipes for healthy, whole food smoothies for any time of day.

Use the code LIVEKINDLY for 15 percent off your purchase.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This herbal supplement was inspired by folk medicine. | Gaia Herbs

3. Gaia Herbs

The Immune Shine from Gaia Herbs is a powder blend made with ingredients used in folk remedies to support the immune system, including elderberry, ginger, astragalus, and maitake and chaga mushrooms. A study found that maitake, a mushroom that has been grown in China and Japan for centuries that’s also known as hen-of-the-woods in Western cuisine, has immune-enhancing effects. Chaga, a type of black mushroom, has traditionally been used to treat various ailments and illnesses in Russia and Eastern Europe. It blends easily into smoothies, plant-based milk, and other beverages.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This vegan D3 supplement can help your body get vitamin D when the days get shorter. | Hum Nutrition

4. Hum Nutrition

When we trade hot, sticky, humid days for the cool, crisp fall air (and hot lattes, finally), we also lose some sunlight. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” has a surprising amount of benefits, including regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helping the immune system function properly. Your body produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, it makes sense that so many peoples’ levels drop during winter. Hum Nutrition’s vegan Here Comes the Sun softgels contain vitamin D3 derived from lichen, a moss-esque organism that arises from a symbiotic partnership between algae and fungus on trees, rocks, and walls.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This earthy mushroom blend pairs well with coffee and tea. | Four Sigmatic

5. Four Sigmatic

The Four Sigmatic Mushroom Blend Mix is a powdered drink mix with a slightly earthy flavor that’s best stirred into coffee or tea. It combines 10 organic mushrooms that have been used in traditional medicines for centuries: chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, shiitake, enokitake (a long, thin white mushroom that’s also delicious in stir-fries), agaricus blazei, mishima, and tremella.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
You can take this elderberry syrup straight or mix it with water. | myKind Organics

6. myKind Organics

The result of a team-up between actress and vegan activist Alicia Silverstone and wellness brand Garden of Life, myKind offers 100 percent vegan multivitamins and herbal supplements. The Elderberry Immune Syrup is a concentrated formula made from black elderberry, echinacea, vitamin C-rich amla berry, and zinc derived from organic guava. It’s sugar-free and you can take it by the spoonful or mix it with water of the flat or sparkling variety.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Hilma’s Immune Support is made for mixing with hot water. | Hilma

7. Hilma

The Immune Support powder from Hilma is formulated with vitamin C derived from camu camu berry, echinacea, ginger, turmeric, zinc, ivy leaf extract, and no fillers. It blends easily into hot or cold water and has a refreshing lemon ginger flavor, so it’s like drinking a cup of tea (which means you absolutely should pair it with vegan cookies).

Remember: vitamin C and zinc can help support your immune system, but it can’t do the work alone. Sticking to good hand-washing habits all throughout winter is your body’s best line of defense against getting sick.


This is a sponsored post.

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12 ways to balance your immune system this winter

12 ways to balance your immune system this winter

  • October 22, 2020

“Immune ‘boosting’ is a phrase that I really can’t get on 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.

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.”

Variety of fresh green vegetables.

© SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

1. 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).”

2. 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. Oranges, grapefruits and mandarins.

© Getty

3. 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.”

4. 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.”

5. 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.”

6. 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.”

Steamed mussels 

© fcafotodigital

7. 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.”

8. 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.”

A single poached egg on artisan hand sliced toasted bread. 

© Jody Louie took this picture

9. 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.”

10. 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.”

11. 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.”

12. 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.”

Also read:

6 ways to bolster your immune system against COVID-19 if you’re in your 60s and older

Malaika Arora uses these Indian ingredients to make a homemade immunity-boosting tonic

Can food really help you build immunity against diseases?

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

Ways to improve your immunity against Coronavirus

  • October 16, 2020
While the country is grappling with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been shown through research that the process of combating the ill effects of the disease goes much beyond clinical support. An individual’s immunity and ability to tackle a health hazard is directly proportional to his/her immunity and nutritional status.

Our immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues and organs that band together to defend your body against foreign invaders – like germs, viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system protects us by creating a barrier that stops those invaders from entering our body. Hence with the advent of COVID-19, the role of a healthy immune system plays the role of a savior. Nutrition, choice of foods and lifestyle is decisive to an excellent health at all stages of life.

There can be ways to work on improving your immunity at home by inculcating the following practices in our lifestyle.

1. Eat right from the start:

Healthy and balanced nutrition should be inculcated from childhood. Once your child is 12 months old, they’ll be eating more of the foods that adults eat. Eating a healthy diet sets a good example for your children. It’s important for children and adults alike to limit foods that are high in sodium, unhealthy fats and added sugars.

When you are planning your meal for the whole family, try to add all types of food groups in your food plate, such as carbohydrates, add whole wheat or mixed grain chapati or hand-pounded rice. For protein, calcium add milk, curd, paneer, pulses, legumes, egg, chicken, fish. For healthy fats add olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, almond, walnut etc. For vitamins, minerals and antioxidants add colourful fruits and vegetables and also add prebiotic foods like yogurt and probiotic milk. Hydration is also paramount in the healthy working of the body. This type of diet can fulfil all the nutritional requirements of your body without any supplementation.

2. Rainbow food palette:

Foods have phytochemicals present in them that determine their colour. These are nothing but antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that provide nutrition to your body and help build immunity. Every natural colour given by nature to fruits and vegetables possesses special phyto nutrients that are specific to that colour. Hence, including foods from various colour families to your meals will ensure no important nutrient is missed out from your diet. Following a rainbow diet is easy as you can find many food alternatives in a colour family and it does not involve following unrealistic diet trends. Not only do the colours provide special nutrients but the vibrancy of the palette is also a mood booster!

Include foods from families of red, blue, green, yellow, orange and white in your diet to increase immunity.

4. Mindful eating:

Inadequate nutrition has been linked to lower resilience for fighting diseases and being an easy target for infections and viruses. Nutrients contribute to our overall health. Their intake in sufficient and right amounts is paramount to the well-being of the mind and body. However, getting engrossed in your screens while having meals can be a disaster, despite the nutrients you are having in your meals as you are unaware of the quantity intake. This habit leads to overeating. To curb this, one needs to be vigilant and peaceful while eating and not indulge in any activity during that time. Believe and follow “Mindful Eating”- enjoy the taste of food, restrict the portions and chew well for good gut health and proper absorption of nutrients. Avoid watching digital screens or reading while eating meals. It helps is coping with physical or mental stress during tough times and is especially necessary at this crucial time.

4. Plant-based eating:

Plant based eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Following this, you avoid food which is high in calorie, simple carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and high levels of sodium that can give you obesity and other health-related issues.

● Try to avoid table salt, replace it with lemon or herbs.

● Avoid packaged and processed food and snacks such as chips, namkeen, biscuits, rusk, burger, pizza. Try to take home-cooked snacks such as homemade roasted chana or roasted foxnut

● Avoid fizzy and carbonated drinks and replace them with nimbu pani, jaljeera, salted buttermilk.

We should remember that one of the most effective ways to combat viral infections, including COVID-19, lies in the optimal combination of diet and immunity. We should all contribute our bit to the ecosystem to uplift the health condition of the community as a whole.

Inputs by Vandana Luthra, Founder and Co-Chairperson, VLCC Group

Surprising Ways to Boost Your Immunity This Winter

Surprising Ways to Boost Your Immunity This Winter

  • October 15, 2020

When you’re looking for “immunity boosters,” you might be tempted to run to the drugstore and pick up a packet of dissolvable vitamin C. We all know this micronutrient is great for our immune systems, as it helps to support a variety of cellular functions that keep your body in tip-top shape. But downing packets of vitamin C isn’t the only thing you can do to stay healthy this fall and winter (and it may not actually be all that effective on its own). What you eat and how you live play a big role in strengthening immune function, too.

This year, illness prevention is more important than ever. The ongoing threat of COVID-19, compounded by the incoming flu season, is a sobering reminder of the importance of taking precautionary measures for our health. Besides wearing masks and social distancing (which help prevent the spread of COVID and the flu!), there are plenty of things you can do to maintain a strong inner defense system.

Let’s Start With the Obvious

First thing’s first, make sure to get your flu vaccine. “Vaccines are able to boost your immune response to specific pathogens to provide long lasting protection and prevent illness,” says Emily Hemann, Ph.D., an assistant professor of microbial infection and immunity at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. This year’s flu vaccine is already widely available, and a vaccine for COVID-19 is also in the works and may be here by spring or summer 2021.

Besides vaccines, there is no foolproof miracle cure to protect you from infection. “There is currently no quick fix or supplement that can be taken to boost your immune system in general that has been proven effective,” Hemann says. (Sorry to break it to you, Emergen-C users.) “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to make sure your immune system is ready to respond and protect you from infection.”

What does this entail? Think of the basics—sleep, a whole foods diet, regular exercise, and minimizing stress. Research shows that a regular sleep routine (the Centers for Disease Control recommends at least seven hours per night for adults) can help improve the function of your T cells, which play a critical role in fighting foreign pathogens. “Invest in getting your seven to eight hours to sleep,” says Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “You’re going to be so much more productive during the day, and it helps your immune system.”

It also helps to maintain an active lifestyle—not always an easy task during a global pandemic. A 2020 study in Exercise Immunology Review noted that regular bouts of moderate-intensity exercise can help strengthen immune response, especially among older adults and those with chronic health conditions. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Other Things to Try

Looking for less-conventional ideas? Here are some immune-boosting strategies you may not have considered.

  • Be intentional about your “off” time. Remember how we mentioned that stress can be a detriment to immunity? This is the perfect excuse to schedule some relaxation into your life. “Anything that can help manage stress, whether it’s playing with your dog or watching comedies, will actually help immune function,” D’Adamo says. To put it mildly, 2020 has been a stressful year, so the more you can prioritize your well-being, the better. Take a day (or even an hour) away from your technology, spend alone time outside, or chill out with people you love.

  • Eat more mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Not only are these veggies delicious, but they may also help your body fight off infection. “All kinds of mushrooms—shitake mushrooms and maitake mushrooms, which are more on the exotic side, or conventional white mushrooms—can help increase the immune system’s production of cells to help fight off pathogens,” D’Adamo says.

    Mushrooms are widely known for their anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties, and they’ve even been studied as a promising complementary treatment for cancer. Onion and garlic, meanwhile, are members of the allium family of vegetables, which have also been shown in some studies to have immune-boosting benefits. “Those also work through increasing some of these immune cells,” D’Adamo says. “A great thing to do would be to make a stir fry with different types of mushrooms, onions, and garlic.” We’ve got your dinner plans on lock.

  • Stock up on fresh fall apples. There’s actually something to the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apple skins contain a phytochemical called quercetin, D’Adamo explains, which helps bring zinc into your cells. “There’s good clinical trial data to show that zinc can help reduce cold virus severity and duration,” he notes. It’s also found in green tea and vegetables like onion, asparagus, and green pepper.

  • Have fun with fermented foods. You’ve heard all about their benefits for your gut. As it turns out, your digestive health is closely tied to your immune system. “Our whole immunity starts in the gut,” D’Adamo says. A report in the journal Gut Microbes found that the gut microbiome helps to regulate immune homeostasis in the body. Stock up on kimchi, grass-fed yogurt, and probiotic supplements—just make sure the supplements are shipped cold to preserve their active bacteria.

  • Don’t quit your healthy diet during the holidays. We’re entering the season of decadent food and chunky sweaters that cover up any weight gain from Thanksgiving dinner. As tempting as it is to let your health goals go in the winter, this isn’t doing your immune system any favors. “In the winter months, many of us tend not to prioritize our physical well-being, which may impact our immune system,” Hemann says. This, combined with the increased frequency of indoor gatherings in cold weather, contributes to the spread of viruses during the winter months. (No, it’s not actually possible to “catch a cold” from cold weather alone.)

Right now, masks and social distancing are our best tools for preventing viral spread—that and getting the flu vaccine ASAP. But hey, it never hurts to try multiple methods of prevention. If you’re in the mood to get creative, these at-home tips can help your body prepare for the challenging season ahead.

11 easy ways to boost your health this fall

11 easy ways to boost your health this fall

  • October 12, 2020

Fall has fallen into place. The days are getting shorter, temperatures are vacillating and the threat of a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies and COVID-19 are all about to mingle. It’s a lot to contend with, but there are a number of simple things we can do to stay healthy this fall, say public health experts.

TODAY spoke with Lorna Thorpe, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the division of epidemiology in the department of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. S. Patrick Kachur, M.P.H., a professor of population and family health at the Columbia University Medical Center, both in New York City, to find out what we can do to try to stack the odds in our favor. Here are their tips for boosting physical health, mental health and immunity throughout the autumn season.

1. Get a flu shot

Both experts emphasize that getting a flu shot this fall is paramount. “One of the challenges is we really don’t know what the risk of having the flu and COVID — either back-to-back or at the same time — is going to be,” Kachur told TODAY. “Even simple respiratory infections, like colds, could make you more susceptible to some secondary infections. Sometimes people get bacterial pneumonia after they have the flu or a cold, so preventing colds and flus is important for that reason as well.” If you do have a flu shot and still get the flu, for example, Kachur said there is good evidence that suggests the severity and duration of the illness will be lessened.

2. Wear a mask and wash your hands

The steps we’re already taking to protect ourselves from COVID-19, like diligently wearing masks in shared spaces and frequently washing and sanitizing our hands, will help protect us from other types of illness too. “The mask works primarily by blocking the particles that we expel when we breathe, cough or speak,” said Kachur. He added that wearing a mask in a public space, even in the lobby of your own building, can not only help keep you from infecting others, it may help protect you from infection as well, since the mask can reduce the number of viral particles you breathe in. “There’s a theory with many respiratory viruses — and we’re still understanding how it can be with COVID, but the fewer particles of virus that you inhale, the less likely you are to develop a severe illness if you do get it.”

3. Don’t overdo it with alcohol

Many people have reported that they’ve been imbibing more during the pandemic. And while a “quarantini” or two may help take the edge off some of your COVID-19-related stress, it’s not the healthiest way to cope. Drinking alcohol, especially excessive drinking, can weaken your immune system and lower your body’s ability to fight off infection, said Thorpe. “This is an important time for us to not be using alcohol as a crutch and to be drinking in moderation,” she said.

4. Dial down your stress

Numerous studies suggest that psychological stress can contribute to reducing immunity. The problem is, as Thorpe pointed out, people seem to be experiencing significantly more stress this year. “We have seen, for a number of reasons, many Americans reporting that their mental health is worse off as a result of the pandemic,” said Thorpe. “Stress is really a factor that influences our physical health and our mental health. The steps that we can take to reduce that agitation, such as limiting intake of the news cycle, really is important.” There are a number of self-care strategies that can help reduce stress. However, said Thorpe, if you’re feeling depressed, it’s important to seek professional help.

5. Stay in touch with your favorite people

Maintaining connections with the people who are important to you may be more important than you think. For one thing, it can help promote better emotional health, said Thorpe. She pointed out that there’s a growing body of research that suggests connectedness can also play a role in improving health outcomes. “It may not be easy to be in the room with as many people as we’d like to be,” she said, “(but) it makes many of us feel not only mentally healthier, but safer.”

6. Get plenty of quality sleep

There are a lot of things to lose sleep over these days, but both experts pointed out that a good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining good health. Sleep helps your body regenerate itself — and getting enough sleep is key to fighting off pathogens, they said. “Scientifically,” Kachur added, “we know that immune function is improved in people who are well-rested.” Adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

7. Load up on fruits and veggies

Boosting your vitamin intake through the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is one very easy — and tasty — way to diversify the nutrients you’re getting and help boost your immunity. “Fall is a great time for vegetables,” said Thorpe. She even suggested considering a plant-based diet, which, compared with the standard American diet, “is not only healthier but better for our environment,” she said.

8. Make sure you exercise

Physical activity is a great way to boost immunity, get fit, reduce stress and stay heart-healthy, said Thorpe. “It really promotes endorphins that improve mental health, can also induce weight loss if weight loss is necessary and maintain muscle mass for different people,” she said. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week (ideally a mix of aerobic and strength-training activities), according to the CDC.

9. Get outside every day

The ability to go outside for a bike ride or a hike this spring and summer had a tremendous impact on people, observed Thorpe. “We have increasing and abundant evidence that spending time in nature is both good for the body and the mind,” she said. If you’re going to be exercising outdoors this fall, be sure to follow appropriate social distancing guidelines and consider wearing a mask to stay safe.

10. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D

This essential vitamin helps you develop strong bones and plays a role in supporting immune function. More recently, it has been linked with better outcomes for people infected with COVID-19, though more research is necessary to better understand whether — and how — it may help. You can get vitamin D from certain foods, like fortified dairy products, juices and cereals, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and some mushrooms. Your body can also make vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. “Vitamin D, though added in milk, is important in immunity, but a lot of us just don’t get enough of it in our everyday diet,” explained Kachur. He suggested taking a half-hour walk outside every day to get your dose of vitamin D from sunlight — or trying a supplement, especially on long dark days. Just be sure to clear it with your primary care doctor before you start taking vitamin D supplements.

11. Consider additional nutrition supplements

There’s promising research on the efficacy of B vitamins and zinc for supporting the immune system and helping to shorten the duration of a cold. However, Kachur noted that while it likely won’t hurt to take them, the mechanism of how they may help remains unclear. If you’re considering adding B vitamins or zinc to your supplements regimen, consult with your doctor to be sure they won’t interact with any other medications you might be taking.

The threat of COVID-19 on top of our usual cold and flu season the pressure is on to be more vigilant about our health, but it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits. Even if you do get a cold or the flu, the healthier you are when it starts, the better the outcome is likely to be, said Kachur. If for that reason alone, let’s all do our best to stay as healthy — and happy — as possible this autumn.

Ways to Boost Your Health and Immune System

Ways to Boost Your Health and Immune System

  • October 12, 2020

Dr. Taz Bhatia, M.D. is an integrative medicine physician and wellness expert who gained national recognition as a best-selling author of the books, What Doctors Eat, The 21 Day Belly Fix, and Super Woman Rx. Her integration of Eastern medical wisdom with modern science has led to featured segments on The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Live with Kelly & Ryan and eventually the premiere of her own PBS special Super Woman RX with Dr. Taz. She is also the host of The Dr. Taz Show: Super Woman Wellness podcast. Personal health challenges in her twenties led Dr. Bhatia to opening her now nationally recognized practice. Today, Dr. Taz and her team work to help patients understand their core health issues and develop personalized treatment plans, pulling from multiple systems of medicine, including integrative, functional, Chinese, and holistic medicine.

Five Feel-Good Ways to Fire Up Your Immune System

Five Feel-Good Ways to Fire Up Your Immune System

  • October 11, 2020

The most important word in the phrase “immune system” is the second one, because what helps to keep you safe from infectious disease isn’t a single organ like your heart or brain. It’s an entire collective of body parts including your tonsils, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and skin all working together to make and store cells that recognize, surround and hopefully conquer invading microorganisms.

Here are five easy ways to help keep these soldiers in fighting form.

1. CULTIVATE FRIENDS (INCLUDING A CLOSE ONE). People who mix with others tend to live longer and are healthier than hermits. People with one close friend do even better. Nineteen years ago, researchers at the University of California, Riverside discovered that mating improves immune function. True, they were talking about fruit flies, but several years later a similar group of curious scientists at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania reported that students who have intimate sex once or twice a week had higher levels of certain antibodies to defend the body against germs, viruses, and other intruders. Simply put, says, Yvonne K. Fulbright, adjunct professor at American University, and Penn State University. “Sexually active people take fewer sick days.”

2. SHOP AT THE GROCERY NOT THE HEALTH STORE. This is a tricky one because there are practically no studies showing the specific effects of diet on immunity and individual nutrient, food or supplement proven to boost immunity and protect us from infectious viruses like COVID-19. Yes, vitamin A supports white blood cells that zero in on bad bugs and B vitamins help produce immune system cells which vitamin D may strengthen, but you’d be hard pressed to find a nutrition expert who thinks you absorb nutrients better from supplements than from food such as the yellow, red and orange fruit and veggies that yield Vitamin A or the poultry, fish, and eggs which serve up B’s and D. (Caution: Megadoses of fat soluble vitamins A and D may be toxic. Megadoses of food? Not so much, except maybe to your hips.)

3. EXERCISE EVERY DAY. Regular exercise keeps your heart healthy, holds your weight steady and may contribute directly to your immune system by improving your circulation so that immune cells zip more freely around tour body. Luckily, living in Manhattan makes exercise easy and economical. No gym or special program required – just skip the bus and subway and walk briskly around the island every day. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from HHS and USDA , 30 minutes a day does the job for a person of normal body weight, 60 minutes if you want to control your weight and 90 minutes if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

4. LAUGH OUT LOUD. On February 25, 1883 when Ella Wheeler Wilcox published a poem called “Solitude” in The New York Sun, it’s unlikely she thought the first line – “Laugh and the world laughs with you” – should end with the words “at bacteria and viruses.” She should have. The living body needs oxygen to power its activities. Between 2001 and 2016, Japanese, Italian and American scientists published several studies proving that laughing out loud clears stale air out of the lungs and enriches the blood with new “clean” oxygen that powers everything, including the lymph vessels, nodes and tissues that pump immune cells all around the body.

5. PRACTICE YOUR BARK AND PURR. Fido and Fluffy don’t just make us smile; they also encourage us to exercise and interact with other humans, which may be why multiple studies show that pet owners tend to have healthier hearts than people without an animal in their lives. Yours doesn’t have to have four legs and a tail to improve your health. A recent study reported by the National Institute of Health and the Mars Corporation’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition showed that when teenagers with Type 1 diabetes were tasked with caring for pet fish, they became more disciplined about checking their blood glucose levels, an annoying but essential chore.

Now, having done all that, relax and get a good night’s sleep. After which, if you listen closely, you can practically hear your immune system whispering, “Thank you.”

East Coast Fitness Graham Low at Seaham Harbour Marina

SHAPING UP: Seven natural ways to boost your immune system in time for winter

  • October 10, 2020
East Coast Fitness Graham Low at Seaham Harbour Marina
East Coast Fitness Graham Low at Seaham Harbour Marina

And, we’re seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases in the North East at the moment.

So, it’s important to give your immune system a boost to stay healthy and avoid being ill over the Autumn and Winter months.

Sure, the flu jab can help, but here are some natural ways to boost your immune system over the next few months:

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Exercise is one of the most effective ways of preventing a cold. When you work out there is an increase of white blood cells circulating around your body which can improve your body’s ability to fight infection.

If you already have a cold, taking part in some light exercise can help you along on the road to recovery. However, you must take note of your body’s response to the activity. If you feel like you’re straining yourself too much, then it may be a good idea to stop.

When you’re stressed there is an increase in the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels over a long period of time can lead to a less effective immune system.

Lack of sleep can be a key contributor to colds and flu because there is a reduction of infection-fighting antibodies and cells when you’re tired.

So, if you’re feeling a little run down opt for an early night over a Netflix binge.

Supermarkets are full of health-boosting drinks, but one of the most powerful drinks you can have is water.

Staying hydrated is really important for your immune system, because it helps your kidneys flush toxins out of the body.

Drinking alcohol can damage the cells in the body that help the immune system. So, too much alcohol over time can increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections.

A lack of vitamin D can lead to a weak immune system.

Foods like egg yolks, mushrooms, salmon and tuna contain vitamin D, so make sure you include these in your diet. If you don’t eat those foods you could also consider a vitamin D supplement. Choose a supplement that contains D3 (cholecalciferol), because it’s better at raising your blood levels of vitamin D.

Green tea contains a high level of antioxidants, called flavonoids, which have many health benefits, including boosting your immune system.

Strawberry Cheesecake Bread

CALORIES PER PORTION: 324

200g strawberries, finely sliced

2 bananas, mashed (overly ripe)

Preheat oven to 190°C/375oF/Gas 5. Grease a 10cm x 24cm loaf tin with a little butter and line with baking paper.

Next, beat together the cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the self-raising flour and baking powder. Add the strawberries and gently toss to combine.

Whisk together the banana, eggs, butter, honey and milk and pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients. Very gently mix to combine (try not to overmix).

Pour half the mixture into the pan, followed by a layer of the cream cheese. Pour the remaining banana bread mixture on top.

Smooth the surface and top with an extra strawberry or banana slices.

Cook for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

10-MIUNTE BEGINNERS LEG WORKOUT

This beginners leg workout is low impact so it’s quite easy on your joints and you can take everything at your own pace.Before you start the workout go to the East Coast Fitness Facebook Page to watch the short demo video to make sure you get the correct technique.20 seconds SQUATS

20 seconds SQUATS WITH CALF RAISE

20 seconds SQUATS WITH KNEE DRIVE

Easy ways to boost your immunity as flu season strikes

Easy ways to boost your immunity as flu season strikes

  • October 9, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – As we roll into cold and flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to do everything we can to cultivate a healthy and strong immune system. Recently the Institute for Functional Medicine published an article with some helpful tips to protect yourself this season.

It all starts with the basic hygiene behaviors that should be common place by now: wash your hands and wear your mask. But there are other lifestyle factors that support your immune system.

For example, we need to get 7-8 hours a night of quality sleep. This is restorative time for your body, allowing your immune system to do its heavy lifting when the body isn’t busy doing other things.

It’s also important to exercise regularly, which can support a healthy immune system. Also, manage your stress level to decrease the damage the stress response has on your immune system.

We can also support our immune system with nutrition. I like a food-first approach. That means eating a lot of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. They provide vitamins and antioxidants that naturally build up your immune system.

Since our diets are never perfect, supplementation can be key. Vitamin C is an easy and safe option to add to your daily routine for immune system health. Adequate vitamin D is a vital component of a heathy immune system too. Since you can overdo it, I do recommend having an easy test done to check your Vitamin D levels. Gut health is critical to immune health so you may want to consider adding a probiotic as well.

Finally, EGCG is a catechin that helps regulate immune function. You can take EGCG in a pill form but Pamela recommends getting it in a more delicious way – through green tea! Enjoy four cups of green tea brewed from loose leaf tea or one tsp of matcha powder to support a healthy immune system.

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