The bad news is that there is no magic pill or miracle broth that will ‘boost’ our immunity against coronavirus overnight. The good news is that there are many ways we can give our immune system the best possible chance of operating at its optimum level.
When it comes to maintaining good health, the immune system is our most precious asset. A silent wonder.
FIBRE – This provides great fodder for all the different beneficial micro-organisms living in us, and might just be the life-saving food 90 per cent of us aren’t eating enough of. Get it from fruit, veg, nuts and seeds, oats, lentils and rice, as well as cooked and cooled white potatoes.
FISH – A source of essential fats, which we can only get from our diet as our bodies can’t make them, particularly in the case of oily fish.
FLAVOUR – Our flavour-sensing evolved to help us survive by avoiding spoiled, harmful foods and motivates us to seek the good. Eating whole foods doesn’t need to be bland. Strive for variety with spices and herbs to bring food to life.
Organic produce has a significantly more diverse bacteria population, especially when eaten raw, since cooking would destroy these good bugs. Anecdotally, I’ve heard of many benefits from consuming fermented foods and drinks like kimchi, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut which contain a natural synergy of many different types of yeasts and bacteria.
ENJOY SOME SUNSHINE
Sunshine is good for immunity and bad for viruses.
One reason that flu is a winter problem is because the influenza virus is transmitted best at cooler temperatures and low humidity.
But there are other reasons for seeking sunshine. Research suggests it makes disease-fighting cells in the skin move faster and work more efficiently.
Sunlight also helps our bodies to make Vitamin D.
The vitamin’s crucial role in immunity is not fully understood but ample levels can help protect against a lengthy list of ailments, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, depression, heart disease and cancer.
The official definition of a probiotic is: ‘a live micro-organism that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit’. But few products meet this definition as it’s tricky to keep the organisms alive.
Also, we don’t know if they are useful for everyone or which specific strains should be taken.
In fact, most microbes from probiotics do not take up residence in our guts, but are transient, detectable only for a limited time during frequent consumption.
This is not a reason to dismiss their health benefits though, as they can help improve the availability of nutrients from food and produce compounds that strengthen immunity.
One interesting piece of research suggested that taking probiotic supplements is linked to a reduced likelihood of getting colds, and making them shorter in duration and less severe.
SLEEP ON IT
One of our least valuable cliches is that we can sleep when we die. Much truer is: if we don’t sleep, we will die – sooner.
While more sleep won’t necessarily make us invincible, lack of sleep almost immediately tips our immune system into imbalance, simultaneously dampening parts of it and empowering others.