Our immune system is big news these days. There has never been a more important time to think about taking care of immune system and doing all we can to make sure our immune defence weapons are sharp and fully loaded.
Why our immune system matters?
Our immune systems are hard at work every moment of every day protecting us from infection and disease. One of their biggest ‘back room’ jobs is managing chronic inflammation in an effort to reduce this and reduce our risks of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. A healthy immune system is also important for reducing our risks of cancer.
Immune system recap
Our immune system takes the form of many millions of cells circulating in our blood stream on the look out for cells that they don’t like the look of.
Many of our immune system cells are called lymphocytes (lim-fo-sites) which come in 2 teams- B cells and T cells.
Broadly speakingB cells release antibodies to try to attack and get rid of invading bacteria or bad guy cells
T cells are in 2 main camps - Helper Ts and Killer Ts.
Killer T cells which go to work on cells that have already begun to react to an assault from the bad guys.
Helper T cells which work with the B cells to help make the anti bodies and also help killer T cells form
Can we boost our immune system?
Well here’s the thing - scientists advise that we can’t boost an already perfectly functioning immune system. That would be like looking to create super hero immune cells. Having an over active immune system can causes its own problems and risks.
However so many things that are part of daily life can affect the ability of our immune system cells to work as efficiently as they can. So the idea is we want to ‘boost’ our immune system back to baseline.
Daily ways we impact our immune system
What we do every day can both help or hinder our immune system.
Things that can affect our immune system negatively include poor sleep, being overweight, certain medications, stress, and having insufficient nutrients in our diet.
Therefore there is a good chance there are areas that we could improve on to help our immune system cells sharpen up their responses.
What can we do to help our immune system?
When it comes to what we put on our plate here are some suggestions-
Eat More Fish-
Omega 3 oil containing fish are helpful for a healthy immune system.
DHA and EPA found in omega 3 enhance the activity of B cells ( remember these guys? They are the ones that help make antibodies to the bad guys)
How much fish do we need to eat ? 2-3 servings a week if you can, if you are a non fish lover then an omega 3 fish oil supplement might be something to consider.
Dial up the Garlic-
The sulphur components in garlic- one in particular known as allicin- have been shown to be helpful fo our immune systems. According to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, involving 41,000 middle-aged women, those who routinely ate garlic, fruits and vegetables had a 35 percent lower colon cancer risk. Benefits came from raw and cooked garlic .
Add anti oxidant lycopene rich tomatoes to your garlic and your are further helping your immune cells ( tomato blog)
A mineral that has many many benefits to general health including regulating blood pressure, heart and brain benefits and supports healthy bones and muscles. Research has found that magnesium has a strong link to our immune system.
Where to find magnesium? Almonds, cashews, spinach and dark chocolate
Are you getting enough selenium?
A mineral that has been shown to support your immune system- fighting inflammation is one of its key roles. Not having enough selenium has in fact been found to slow immune responses when needed*. Found in tuna, cod, turkey, lamb, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts
Drink cups of tea
Yes seriously Tea can help your T cells due to the ingredient theanine. This ingredient- an amino acid- has anti inflammatory properties which are thought to have a number of health benefits and supporting your immune system is one key benefit that has prompted ongoing research.
Spice up your plate
Tumeric has anti oxidant and anti inflammatory properties** and has long been used for these and of course for its yummy taste and amazing colour.
For some ideas on how to add this to your diet check out
We love this delicious turmeric milk !
Dr Clara Russell
** Turmeric https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17211725