How to boost your immunity with Dr Clare Bailey

How to boost your immunity with Dr Clare Bailey

GP and co-creator of The Fast 800, Dr Clare Bailey discusses how to boost your immunity

The recent outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus has shown us just how vulnerable we are to the emergence of new infectious diseases. The spread of novel viruses is a particular problem because we can’t rely on medicines to help us fight them.

Our best defence is a fully active immune system. Your immune system is a complex army of cells which are there to identify and destroy any potentially dangerous invaders. But to do this effectively the army needs to be in the best possible condition for combat.

You might be surprised to learn that women have stronger immune systems than men, which might explain why men have a 50% higher risk of contracting the corona virus (and may explain ‘man flu’!)

The problem is that as we get older our immune system tends to get weaker and less effective. So, what can you do to keep yours in good shape and ready to take on all comers?  These are my top recommendations:

  1. Eat to Beat Infection – one of the best ways to boost your immune system is by eating a low-ish carb, Mediterranean-style diet. This is widely seen as the healthiest, most nutrient rich diet on the planet, containing lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lentils beans, nuts, seeds, spices and olive oil, as well as some oily fish, cheese and full fat yoghurt. Not only is the Mediterranean diet high in health promoting nutrients, but the high fibre content is a great way to boost your microbiome, the trillions of microbes that live in your large intestine and which are so important for your health.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can weaken your body’s immune system and reduce its ability to fight off infections
  3. Keep your blood sugars in the normal range, People who have prediabetes (raised blood sugar levels) or diabetes are much more vulnerable to infections
  4. Manage Stress; an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, reduces your ability to fight infections
  5. Get more good quality sleep; a range of infection-fighting chemicals are released when you are in deep sleep.
  6. Being active will promote good blood circulation, which means the cells of your immune system can travel freely round your body and do their job efficiently.
  7. Supplement with immunity boosting vitamins and minerals, such as a moderate dose of Vitamin D (depleted at this time of year) and consider vitamin E (in almonds, seeds and spinach)  and B6 known as pyridoxine (in milk, dairy, chicken, fish, carrots, spinach) and the mineral zinc (plenty found in a med-style diet) which may reduce cold viruses by 50%.
  8. Follow sensible advice to maintain good hydration, limit alcohol intake, ensure you are getting adequate protein and iron, and avoid smoking as your lungs can show a rapid recovery even within a few weeks to reduce risk of pneumonia.

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