How to support a healthy immune system year-round
Having a healthy immune system year-round is a goal for many. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible and the chances of you being exposed to things like the common cold and the flu are likely.
Your immune system is comprised of many organs, tissues and cells that work together to protect you from illness and keep you fit and healthy. If these mechanisms are not functioning optimally, you may become more susceptible to recurrent illnesses and infections.
What are the symptoms of a weakened immune system?
Signs of a weakened immune system include:
- Frequent and recurrent infections
- Heightened stress levels
- Wounds that are slow to heal
- Digestive issues such as diarrhoea and constipation
- Ongoing cough
If you are suffering from any of the listed symptoms, seek advice from your healthcare professional.
What causes a weakened immune system?
When invading bugs enter your system, your immune system will develop proteins called antibodies that work to fight off the specific invader. White blood cells as well as antibodies are responsible for protecting your body from infection.
Many factors can affect the health of your immune system including seasonal changes, poor diet, lack of movement as well as lack of sleep. Chronic levels of stress can also cause immune dysregulation leading to an increase in infections and poor recovery time.
Diet and lifestyle tips for supporting a healthy immune system
Although catching the common cold or flu are inevitable, there are many steps you can take to support your immune system in managing these infections as well as protecting your body from infection.
- Increase vitamin C rich foods in your diet. These include broccoli, capsicum, kiwi fruit, oranges, lemons etc. Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system function and helps to reduce symptoms of the common cold including sneezing, cough and runny nose
- Increase zinc rich foods. Zinc is another essential nutrient needed to support immune system health. You can improve your zinc status through including foods such as oysters, pumpkin seeds, poultry and red meat
- Ensure you are having adequate protein intake from plant or animal-based sources. Protein is essential to help your immune cells deal with infections
- Enjoy a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you are receiving essential vitamins and minerals needed to support your immune system
- Vitamin D rich foods such as eggs and fatty fish provide immune supporting properties
- Maintain a healthy exercise regime
- Reduce stress where possible
- Maintain healthy hygiene and wash your hands. This gives the immune system less work
- Reduce alcohol intake and drink in moderation
- Focus on improving the quality of your sleep
- Ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin D by enjoying 10-15 minutes of sunshine per day (at sun safe hours)
Thompson’s Herbal Favourites for supporting a healthy immune system
Olive leaf (Olea europaea) is used traditionally in Western herbal medicine to relieve mild fever. It is also used as an antioxidant to maintain general health and wellbeing.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to relieve symptoms of the common cold & flu including cough, runny nose, sneezing and feelings of general debility. Traditional Western herbal medicine also uses garlic to relieve symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections and reduce excess mucous.
Echinacea (Echinacea spp) a Native American plant also known as coneflower, has been used for centuries as a remedy for the common cold. Echinacea has immune supporting properties helping to decrease the duration of common colds as well as relieving symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections.
Looking to support your immune system health? Explore our Immune Health range designed and mastered with herbs to support a healthy immune system year-round.