Updated December 2020
Immune System Support
To help everyone navigate a world with COVID ever present and stay in the best health possible, I want to share some practical, immune-strengthening, yet simple advice.
You can always make a positive difference to your health, (no matter what age or state of health you are currently in) with the very next meal you eat, or lifestyle choice you make.
Please note, this advice is intended to help your immune system to perform well and is not a replacement for medical or current Government advice. It is general advice as a starting point for everyone to help build up their natural defences with diet and lifestyle.
So without further ado, here is my
3 Step Immune System-Strengthening plan:
1. Train Your immune system to perform at its best through diet -
Follow a wholefoods diet - the immune system is weakened by high amounts of refined or processed carbohydrates. So minimise sugar, processed food, high carb foods such as most breakfast cereals, white bread, pasta etc and anything made with white flour, as well as alcohol and artificial sweeteners. Your immune system will be impaired every time your blood sugar level is elevated too high by these kinds of foods, (which is one reason why diabetics are a high risk group for any flu virus).
Immune health begins in the gut so feed your gut microbiome regularly with live foods such as probiotic yoghurt, kimchee, unpasteurised sauerkraut, miso soup, kefir and sourdough bread.
Ensure a good intake of essential fats either via oily fish such are sardines, mackerel, wild salmon, anchovies, herring and kippers (2-3 portions per week) or hemp oil, flax and chia seeds (1 tblsp per day minimum if vegetarian/vegan).
Increase dietary zinc which can help stop viruses replicating(1) Best sources are beef, chicken, pork, oysters, tofu, hempseed, pumpkin seeds, pulses and oats.
Eat good quality proteins such as organic eggs, lean meat, nuts, seeds, pulses, beans and small amounts of organic dairy.
Aim for 6 different veg and 2-3 fruit per day. Choose a rainbow of colours, including dark fruits such as blackcurrants and prunes.
2. Be in Control of Your Stress and Sources of Information
If you are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping, try removing caffeine and drinking calming teas to support nervous system health such as chamomile, lavender, valerian and peppermint.
Manage stress by minimising the amount of time spent watching the news, plan in joyful and creative activities into your day and check on friends and family regularly, perhaps arranging video calls in place of face to face meetups. Let's focus on what we CAN do, not what we currently can't.
Yoga, meditation and breathwork are proven to help lower stress hormones which can weaken the immune system - choose an online class to suit you (For speed and effectiveness I love the 4/7/8 breath by Dr. Weil)
Aim for 20 minutes of sunlight per day on arms and face without sunscreen. Vitamin D helps immune system cells to fight flu and upper respiratory tract infections(2) As researched published in 2020 tells us that Vitamin D status is associated with more severe COVID 19 outcomes, and it is impossible to guarantee sufficient levels from sunlight between October and March, supplementation is advisable for all British adults & children (4)
Don't be mislead by misinformation - seek out correct facts from robust sources as often as you need to and don't waste time reading scaremongering social media posts from suspect sources.
3. If you suspect you have caught COVID 19 -
Keep eating well - do not starve a fever if it is viral! Bacterial infections can respond to fasting, but so far the evidence indicates that viruses can do more damage if food is restricted. Natural sugars such as honey and fruit are absolutely fine to have if you contract a virus and may improve your immune response. Continue with the dietary advice in Step 1.
Stop all supplements apart from Vitamin C, Zinc, magnesium and Vitamin D. There is still only small amounts of research on COVID 19 and nobody can safely say that a particular nutrient is safe to take if you have the virus. Vitamin C, however, supports the body's ability to fight any infection. It has been used experimentally in China and the US on patients with COVID 19 and has been shown in studies to be effective against some strains of coronavirus(3).
Further reading from the BMJ:
1.Turner.The treatment of rhinovirus infections: progress and potential. Antiviral Res. 2001; 49:1-14.
2. Yamshchikov et al. Vitamin D for treatment and prevention of infectious diseases: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Endocrine Practice. 2009; 15 (5): 438-49.
3. Hemilä H. Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 2003; 52 (6): 1049-1050
4. Statement from PHE and NICE on vitamin D supplementation during winter. 28 November 2020. www.gov.uk/government/publications/vitamin-d-supplementation-during-winter-phe-and-nice-statement/statement-from-phe-and-nice-on-vitamin-d-supplementation-during-winter.
For 1-2-1 Consultations or to purchase my Immune Supporting Menu Plan with Recipes & safe supplement advice, please see below