Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape has never been more important.
-By Le’Nise Brothers
We asked Le’Nise Brothers registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC (and Frame yoga instructor) to share her top immune-boosting tips to keep us all as healthy as possible.
EAT THE RAINBOW
Aim for at least 10 80g portions a day; 7 vegetables and 3 fruit with a wide variety of colours. The colours contain plant-based nutrients and antioxidants, which studies show can improve the way your immune system responds to pathogens. Have fun with it by giving yourself the challenge of adding in a red, green, yellow, and purple vegetable or fruit each day!
GET YOUR ZINC IN
Zinc, a mineral found in a wide variety of foods, can have a powerful effect on the way the body responds to infections by boosting the response of the immune system. Free-range, organic beef, and lamb are great sources of zinc, as are seafood such as oysters, mussels, and clams. Toss in a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds into your morning smoothie to give yourself a quick boost!
Hands up if you regularly sleep less than 7 hours a night? Sleep is super important because this is the time our bodies restore and repair. It’s also the way our bodies improve a certain type of immune cell called T cells, which is one of the ways our bodies fight viruses. Get into a regular sleep schedule by going to bed before 11pm and waking up at the same time each day.
DOSE UP ON THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Vitamin D (a hormone, not a vitamin!) plays a powerful role in supporting the immune system. I know it’s hard to get vitamin D from the sun right now (rain, rain, go away!), but if the sun does come out, try to get at least 10 minutes of unprotected exposure on your legs and arms. If the sun isn’t playing ball, organic dairy & eggs, oily fish like salmon, herring & anchovies, and mushrooms are great food sources of vitamin D.
GO WITH YOUR GUT
Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in our gut (small and large intestines)? We have a huge number of immune cells located there, so we need to do what we can to keep our guts in good nick! A high-quality daily probiotic can be helpful, as can probiotic food and drink like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kvass and kefir. If none of these sound very appealing, trying adding in more leafy greens like kale, watercress, cabbage and chard, as these help feed the good bacteria in our gut.
ADD ONIONS AND GARLIC TO YOUR MEALS
Onions and garlic may have a reputation as breath killers, but they’re also wonderful ways to boost immune cells called natural killers that work to destroy viruses in our bodies. Chop garlic and leave it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to boost the amount of allicin, the antiviral compound.
MOVE YOUR FRAME
Staying active with at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day will have amazing benefits for your body’s ability to fight off viruses. Exercise can boost your body’s ability to produce white blood cells, one of the parts of the immune system.
Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, Frame yoga teacher, women’s health, hormone and menstruation coach, and host of the Period Story podcast. She set up her practice Eat Love Move to help empower and educate women to understand their bodies, advocate for better healthcare, and heal. Find out more about Le’Nise at eatlovemove.com and @eatlovemove .