In the current health crisis, you might be wondering what you can do to support your own, and your family’s immune system.
There is a lot of information out there and everybody seems to have their own ideas – so how do we find fact from fiction?
There is no magic bullet
First off, steer clear of any product or single food that claims to be a magic bullet to boosting your immune system. The idea that the immune system is something that can be easily influenced seems doubtful when you realise how complex a system it really is. Hundreds of different types of cells are doing a variety of jobs from identifying invaders, carrying messages, devouring unfriendly bacteria to learning how to fight new enemies.
There’s still a huge amount that we don’t understand about how this complex system works and so when we’re told that something will ‘boost’ it, unless you are happy to go with anecdotal evidence look at the science before spending your money.
So what can you do?
There is plenty of robust, scientific evidence to show that the overall quality of your diet affects your immune system.
Eating more fruit and veg is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains is believed to support the immune system, promote good health and protect against chronic disease. This has been established time and again by scientific studies across the world on large numbers of people and has helped to inform health promotion guidelines such as the government’s 5-a-day scheme and the Eatwell Guide.
Eat more plant foods. Wholegrain carbs, fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds. It’s a cheap and simple strategy that will support your immune system and general health.
What about garlic?
Garlic is often touted as an apocryphal ‘immune booster’. Whilst there is evidence of the antiviral and antibacterial actions of garlic in animal models, human clinical studies are scarce and there is a need for further well designed human clinical trials to generate conclusive results. Plus, the major downside is that to reap the benefits you must eat it raw. Chewing on 2 or 3 cloves of raw garlic a day is certainly going to keep folk away, so I suppose the chance of encountering any pathogens will certainly decrease!
What about probiotics?
Probiotics – there is no doubt that the microbiome – the trillions of different microbes that flourish in the gut – plays an important part in overall health and immunity. However, there is just not the evidence to point to any probiotic supplement as having a beneficial effect on the immune system.
Rather than take a supplement, better to consume foods naturally rich in a variety of strains of probiotics such as kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and sourdough bread. You can further positively influence the diversity of your microbiome by making sure you eat your 5 a day.
So the bottom line is…
Every part of your body, including your immune system, works better when supported by healthy-living strategies and protected from assaults such as smoking, drinking high amounts of alcohol or stress and lack of sleep.
For more information on a healthy diet that provides all the nutrients thought to be important for the immune system to work normally, get in touch for a FOC exploratory conversation Talk to the DNA Nutritionist