Reduce stress levels
Chronic high stress levels have been shown to impair immune cell defences, making us more susceptible to infections. Consider taking a holiday and resting if you find that you’re recurrently sick.
Poor sleep quality and lack of sleep is linked to increased susceptibility to thecommon cold as the stress it places on the body impairs immune function.
Increase zinc and vitamin C
These nutrients facilitate immune cell function. Modern farming practices have led to a reduction in nutrients in many fruit and veg, so it’s worth taking a vitamin C supplement of up to 1000mg a day this season. Zinc is found in animal products, beans and nuts. A supplement of 25-30mg per day can help in winter.
Omega-3 fish oil activates B-cells, which are key to long-term immunity. A supplement of quality omega-3 fish oil can help, especially if you don’t eat much nutrient-dense fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines or mackerel.
Sugar can inhibit immune cell function by impairing the ability of phagocytes (white blood cells) to combat invading bacteria and viruses.
Add some herbs
The medicinal herbs turmeric, garlic and ginger have a potent antiviral and antioxidant content that helps boost the body’s immune response, so add these into your dishes when possible.
A large proportion of our immune defence is in our digestive tract, and an effective immune response relies on the presence of “good bacteria”, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, in our gut. This microbiota can be reduced by lifestyle, stress and medication use. Try taking a good-quality probiotic daily if you experience recurrent infections.
Various studies suggest that clinical hypnosis may be beneficial for improving our immune cell count, in particular the cells that fight viral illness. Check the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association national register to find a qualified hypnotherapist in your area.
Consider herbal medicine
The traditional herb astragalus can help modulate immune function, while echinacea can assist in reducing the severity and duration of a cold. Other herbs such as olive leaf extract and green tea extract are yet to be properly evaluated but may have a positive effect.