How To Boost
Your Immune System to
Protect from Viruses
The purpose of this blog post is not to scare monger (we’ll leave that to the media), or to sound too doom and gloom about the Covoid-19 outbreak, but as it stands we all have very good reason at the moment to be trying to boost our body’s natural defences against invading viruses.
If you’re wondering what determines your risk of picking up an infection (any infection, whether that be Corona Virus or the common cold), then it pretty much boils down to the health of your immune system. Short of vaccination, there’s no quick fix when it comes to protecting you against invading pathogens so boosting your immune system naturally is the best way forward and is something we should all be doing right now (along with washing our hands excessively that is).
How does the immune system work?
At the risk of getting a bit sciency, let’s quickly go over how the immune system works. Currently, scientists are saying that although many of us (possibly as many as 70%) could experience a mild version of the virus with general cold like symptoms, the elderly and those with underlying health issues are most at risk - essentially, those with an already compromised immune system.
Our bodies are under constant attack from viruses. Short of walking around in a hazmat suit there’s absolutely no way that you can avoid these tiny bundles of genetic material whose sole aim in life is to find a host in which to reproduce. Once inside your system the virus will target specific cells, in the case of a common cold it would be nose and throat, and with Corona virus that also includes the lungs since it is a respiratory virus.
Viruses attach themselves to bacteria cells and begin to replicate inside. Eventually the bacteria cell releases all the new viruses and the process starts again - replication happens extremely quickly. Luckily, your immune system has T cells and NK cells to hunt out and destroy these viruses. So why, you might ask, doesn’t it always work? Well, whilst our immune systems are always evolving and improving when they come into contact with new pathogens (that’s how a vaccine works, after all), viruses adapt too and they have ways of hiding and making themselves unrecognisable to your body’s natural immune defence cells.
If our immune system mounts a response to an infection and is successful, studies have shown that viruses can adapt and change so that they can come back (sometimes within the space of 2 weeks) looking like a different version of itself and be successful in its attack!
How to support your immune system
So what can we do? Boosting your immune system is the fastest way to protect yourself from a virus and the best way to do that is to improve your gut health; 70% of the immune system resides in the gut after all, and that needs to be taken into consideration when you start your virus fighting campaign.
One of the ways in which the health of your gut influences the functionality of your immune system is in the way that our gut bacteria helps to teach our immune cells the difference between our body’s own cells and foreign, invading ones. Side note, but it’s this vital function that goes so wrong in autoimmune conditions where the body starts to see its own cells as foreign and mounts a response against them. Hence, gut health is important in autoimmune conditions too.
You may have heard of the ‘gut brain’ axis, but did you know there’s so many more of these gut modulated connections within the body, and of particular importance to us all at the moment is the gut-lung axis. So, the better the health of your gut, the more sway it will have over a respiratory illness - great news all round.
The Presscription Gut Cleanse 1 has been designed by renowned nutritionist, best selling author and gut health expert Amanda Hamilton. It contains a combination of powerful ingredients that focus on assisting and supporting the microbial balance in the gut. Order your cleanse here.
Six ways to improve gut health
1) Focus on increasing the diversity of your diet. We need both pre and probiotic foods in order to feed our gut bugs adequately. Moreover, restrictive diets (eg low FODMAP) have been shown to adversely affect our gut microbiota’s diversity so focus on including lots of plant foods daily and definitely don’t have the same breakfast or lunch every day!
2) Give your body a break every now and again. Periods of fasting can be amazingly therapeutic as they help to switch on autophagy. Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning up damaged cells and this only comes into effect after periods of fasting. By significantly reducing your caloric intake, such as with a juice cleanse, you’re more likely to free up energy and resources to help these natural detoxification and cellular clean up pathways to turn on. Try the Presscription Gut Cleanse protocol, which includes both pre and probiotic elements to help support gut health.
3) Take a good quality probiotic. Good gut health stems from having good diversity so look for a probiotic with lots of different strains of beneficial bacteria. You can also eat fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut - even better if you ferment them yourself.
4) Avoid too much sugar, as this favours the “bad” strains of bacteria in the gut. There’s plenty of sugar in fruits and vegetables, so try and ditch the processed, refined type at all costs!
5) Look after your general wellbeing: this means sleep, circadian rhythm and lowering your toxin exposure. The literature now shows that our gut diversity is linked to the quality of our sleep, so give yourself the opportunity to get 8, uninterrupted hours a night in order to keep your gut health in tip top condition.
6) Eat immune boosting foods:
Garlic is a natural anti-microbial and best consumed raw (sorry), for the most potent benefits. Choose a night that you’re staying in and chop half a clove up really small and sprinkle on top of your evening meal.
Oregano and basil: Both these two pungent herbs also have anti-microbial effects. Cook with them liberally or, if you prefer, pop down to your local health food store and pick up some oregano oil and put a few drops in water.
Ginger: Ginger is great for supporting the immune system. Presscription use fresh ginger use with reckless abandon in their cleanses, and for good reason, it also helps to decrease inflammation.
Leafy greens are incredibly high in vitamin C, so make sure you dose up with every meal.