During the cold months, we'll spend plenty of time considering our immune systems, as colds and flu do the rounds
However, strong immunity is something we need to think about throughout the year. We're not always aware that it could do with a little boost, yet a combination of stress, a lack of sleep and exercise, along with dehydration, can all take their toll.
So, what can we do to improve our immunity? Well, immunologist Dr Jenna Macchiochi is on hand to explain exactly what we can do...
1. Nutrition is key
Did you know your immune system can suffer when you eat both too much and too little? To function at maximum efficiency, it needs both macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Subsequently, a specific deficiency can compromise your immune system - avoid this by including immune boosting foods, like cranberries, in your daily diet.
2. Colour in
Nutrition is about more than just vitamins and minerals - there's no magic bullet that sorts your immune system. However, plant rich colour is crucial, thanks to their rich phytonutrient content. What do they do? Well, small amounts of phytochemicals work their way from the plant foods, into our cells, with the direct cells subsequently reducing our inflammatory reactions.
3. When you eat
Research has revealed a way to get good health is to time your meal to your daily body rhythm, giving credence to the idea that you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and eat dinner like a pauper. It's also been found that eating within a restricted 10 hour window can benefit you, as the body's internal clock doesn't digest food as efficiently when you sleep. Subsequently, it becomes a case of when you sleep, rather than what you're eating.
4. Consolidate your meals
Nowadays, people eat far more regularly than ever before - normally outside of meal times, too. As a nation, we have erratic food patterns, and when we eat, we're failing to take in nutrients.
It also prompts our immune system to produce a transient inflammatory response, as our gut does more than simply digest food - it's also the home to trillions of bugs that form our microbiome, along with potentially infectious microorganisms, that can enter through our mouth.
Subsequently, eating has an inflammatory impact, and frequently doing so can perpetuate a leaky gut. Snacking can have two impacts - not only will it increase the chances of elevated inflammatory markers, but it can also lead to excessive weight gain too.