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There’s a reason that children are encouraged to contract chicken pox at a young age and are constantly picking up random bugs in the playground. It is to build and strengthen their immune systems. With that thought in mind and being nearly two years into the Covid pandemic, we have in many ways regressed our immune systems. With the overuse of hand sanitiser and masks, the common cold was expertly avoided by the population at large. Plus, as identified by Prof. Jonathan Hourihane, from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, the increases in eczema, asthma, hay fever, and food allergies over the past 30 years have likely resulted from decreased exposure to infections as well.
Role of the immune system
In basic terms, according to Hopkins Medicine, the immune system protects your body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins (chemicals produced by microbes). It is made up of different organs, cells, and proteins that work together. But with our bodies a little out of practice fighting these outside invaders what can we consume to help us get our defences back up?
There are a few immune-boosting foods that are understood to support the proper function of our internal defences. We’ll explore some of them below:
A nutrient-dense superfood, blueberries are great for your immune system and contain 4 grams of fibre, vitamin K and C plus Manganese. And, they’re lightly sweet, so they work great as a flavouring for other, more bland foods like oats. Keep them in pre-portioned baggies in the fridge for a healthy snack anytime.
Now widely popular for its health benefits, turmeric contains Curcumin. According to Healthline, “Due to its many positive health effects, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, curcumin may aid longevity.”
Steam it, boil it or grind it up into a smoothie; spinach is as good for you as they say. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Spinach is high in vitamins A and C and folate. It's also a good source of magnesium. The plant compounds in spinach may boost your immune system. The carotenoids found in spinach — beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin — also are protective against age-related vision diseases, such as macular degeneration, as well as heart disease and some types of cancer.”
Ginger actually helps you kill germs. That’s right. According to Web MD, “Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting [the growth] of bacteria like E.coli and Shigella, and they may also keep viruses like RSV at bay.” That is better than a squirt or two of hand sanitiser for sure.
According to Science Daily, “Fish oil rich in DHA and EPA is widely believed to help prevent disease by reducing inflammation, but until now, scientists were not entirely sure about its [immune-enhancing] effects.” Previously, oily fish wasn’t recommended for people with compromised immune systems but now it looks like it actually enhances your white blood cells.
Other things you can do
In addition to eating well, exercise can help to boost your immune system. If you’re over 55 and looking to get started with a wellness routine, visit one of our Audley Club locations. Our team of Personal Trainers can help devise a fitness plan to take full advantage of a good diet and exercise for a better-functioning immune system.