If your body is your castle, your immune system acts as the soldiers patrolling the perimeter and every corridor within the walls. There are so many things you can do to support your Immune system to help it thrive from the safety of your home. ?
The cells of the immune system can be categorised as lymphocytes (T-cells, B-cells and NK cells), neutrophils, and monocytes/macrophages. These are all types of white blood cells. The major proteins of the immune system are predominantly signalling proteins (often called cytokines), antibodies, and complement proteins.
- Zinc – Plays a very important role in regulating the immune system and is a common deficiency particularly among West Australians. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of Immune cells. (2) Signs your zinc may be low are those little white spots that appear on your nails. Oysters and nuts are both great food sources that are high in zinc.
- Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for healthy immune system response. It helps to stimulate both the production and function of many types of white blood cells. It also helps your body to produce important antibodies. It has powerful antioxidant properties that help to protect certain white blood cells from the toxic compounds they produce in their fight against pathogens. (3)
Australia’s Kakudu plum has the highest recorded levels of Vitamin C of any fruit in the world, measuring up to 100 times the Vitamin C content found in an orange.
- Vitamin D – The final product of Vitamin D conversion in the body is considered a hormone & is low levels are associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. It is an immune regulator. Immune cells contain the receptor for Vitamin D, which means they can respond to the Vitamin D molecule. The body makes 90% of its vitamin D in a chemical reaction that occurs when sunlight hits the skin. Food does not contain a lot of vitamin D.
My Favourite Immune Herbs
- Shiitake mushrooms are considered ‘the elixr of life’ by many Eastern herbalists. They are a unique for a plant because they contain all eight essential amino acids, along with a type of essential fatty acid called linoleic acid which has been extensively studied for its Immune boosting properties. A true medicinal powerhouse, shiitake is used to boost immunity, strengthen the respiratory tract, tone the heart, improve circulation and protect the liver.
- Reishi – ‘The mushroom of immortality’ and considered to be natures very own Zanex. Its calming properties are thanks to the compound triterpene which Reishi has a great deal of. Stress reduction is one of the most important issues to address when holistically supporting and strengthening your immune system. Herbalists love Reishi for its powerful adaptogen (ability to help us adapt to stress) qualities. Reishi is traditionally used to support the immune system, relieve stress and strengthen the spirit. Reishi is one of the most studied herbs in the world and is highly regarded in Eastern medicine. Reishi extracts contain bioactive triterpenoids, polysaccharides, lipids, and proteins to help strengthen the immune system.
- Echinacea a plant native to North America it is considered to be a spiritually protective plant and is a powerful immune modulator with immune enhancing properties. It is also anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Numerous studies have found that this plant may help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness. Research shows it increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infections.
- Andrographis ‘the king of the bitters’ has long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese herbal medicine . It is particularly suited to acute upper respiratory infections, with consistent evidence for its clinical efficacy. It is also safer than echinacea for long-term use because it is not drying and weakening. Various studies have reported antimicrobial, antihyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory, Immunomodulatory effects attributable to flavonoids and other phytochemical constituents.
- Elderberry – The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. Elderberry extract has been found to reduce the length and severity of symptoms caused by the influenza virus. It is also very high in Vitamin C. With antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. (5)
- Lemon balm is a very soothing herb that is most commonly used for anxiety and sleep. It also has powerful anti-viral properties.
At Home Cooking Herbs
- Ginger is an amazing spice that is great for boosting the immune/circulatory system. It has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties which help protect your body and has been shown to inhibit the rhinovirus which is the virus responsible for causing the common cold.
- Thyme contains multiple antiviral constituents, including thymol, camphor, borneol, carvacrol, terpinenes, pinenes, cymene, terpinenols, citral and cineoles.
- Oregano – In addition to fighting off bacteria, some test-tube studies have found that oregano and its components may also protect against some viruses. Carvacrol and thymol are two compounds in oregano that have been associated with antiviral properties.
- Garlic contains Alliin and the enzyme alliinase. It is possible that allicin works as an antioxidant, and it is effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Allicin is also a very strong natural weapon against infection, particularly bacteria, viruses, yeasts and intestinal amoeba. To get the most benefit out of garlic, after chopping or crushing it let it rest for a few minutes before cooking. Some of its most beneficial compounds are only created after the cell walls are broken
- Turmeric has become very popular as is said to be a superfood, that has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is an anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory compound that can help fight everyday colds and flus and is being studies for other benefits such as working as an antidepressant.
Immune Boosting Foods
I noticed when I went and braved Coles that a lot of people are stocking up on canned/processed food that lasts a long time but don’t have a heap of nutritional benefits. The fruit and veg section are still full of produce. The eBook attached has a heap of family recipes that can be made and frozen using fresh food. J ?
Below are some of my favourite Immune boosting foods;
- Broccoli is amazingly high in nutrients with exceptional levels of A, C and E, and many antioxidants. It is also very high in potassium which promotes proper brain function and a healthy nervous system. Studies have also shown that there is a compound in broccoli that not only improves the immune system but helps slow it’s deterioration as we age.
- Capsicum If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Capsicums contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
- Citrus Fruits Citrus is a great way to add some vitamin C into your diet plus it is delicious and comes in so many varieties. These fruits include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit and pineapple.
- Kakuda Plum Australia’s very own super fruit. These plums have the highest recorded natural amount of vitamin C of any food in the world. In traditional aboriginal medicine, Kakadu plums were used to treat colds, the flu, and headaches. They were also utilized as an antiseptic or soothing balm for the limbs.
- Blueberries boast the highest antioxidant supply of all fresh fruit. Antioxidants serve several roles in your body, including boosting your immune system. Those found in blueberries, including anthocyanin, vitamin C, copper, and iron, work to amplify your immunity so you can prevent infections.
- Broths & Soups – Warming, soothing and great for gut health. You can add so many immune boosting herbs and veggies to them. Chicken broth or soup is chock full of nutrients, including protein, calcium, and gelatin and vitamins and minerals from carrots and other vegetables. If your vegetarian just make a veggie soup. A pumpkin soup with turmeric is a great alternative to chicken soup.
A Few Isolation Food Ideas
It kind of really does feel like we have been sent to our rooms.
We are always so busy running from one task to the next, to the next, to the next until we eventually collapse into bed for a few hours’ sleep and then start the whole process all over again the next day. We are constantly in a state of fight or flight, which for our health means that our stress hormones are always over stimulated and underneath the coffee and constant survival mode we are all potentially exhausted.
So as terrible as the situation is, we could each potentially use this time to take a little extra care of ourselves. When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we can be more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.
Side note: I realise a lot of mum’s out there may be potentially laughing at me right now, but this is just in case by some miracle all your kids fall asleep at the same time and you get 30 minutes of actual alone time.
1. STOP. Please stop and breathe and sit outside in the fresh air (even if it is just your backyard). Take the time to pause and connect back to yourself. I know we are all worried about our financial situations and the situation in general but if there is literally nothing you can do but stay home. Then stay in and surrender to having an actual break.
2. Turn the news OFF. Seriously. Limit yourself to check in once or twice per day to get a quick update and then move on. Yes! It is so important to be informed but it is also very important to keep your stress levels low and the news is probably not going to reduce that!
3. Read the book that’s you have been meaning to read for the last three years that’s still sitting unopened. If you are suffering feeling really worried this would be perfect time to read any of the below if you feel drawn to them;
- The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
- A course in Miracles, by Helen Schucman
- The Subtle art of not giving a fuck, by Mark Manson
4. Clean your house. Anytime we clean our minds, body, home, space, cupboards, shelves, garage in any way we are clearing out the old and opening ourselves up to something new. If you haven’t read ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up By Marie Kondo in it is actually really great book if you feel like cleaning out your home. If you are stuck indoors for long periods of time, I would also really recommend Smudging your entire house. If you clean your house and then smudge it you will feel clearer. Sage is a known for its anti-viral properties. Specifically, white sage “has both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties” that like indoor plants, keep viruses, bacteria, and even insects away.
5. After you have created your beautiful indoor space, Meditate!
If you have never meditated there are so many apps and online options that can teach you. Start small. Apps like – Headspace, Calm. Personally, I like to use you tube meditations as they have something for basically anything you are struggling with. I even noticed this morning they have specific meditations for anxiety to do with Corona.
6. Have a bath, with a candle, incense, some music. Breathe.
7. Be creative. When was the last time you did anything creative? Draw, journal cook (veggies) paint, design your dream backyard. Anything!
8. Exercise – Once again, YouTube and the internet for the win. There are seriously so many workout, yoga, dance videos online you can do from your lounge room.
I really hope this helps.
Any questions at all please message me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Sending love + calm.