The Internet is full of ideas on how to boost and strengthen your immune system naturally. What you need to remember is that we are all different. Sometimes it can be trial and error to find out what really works for you.
Firstly, what is our immune system? Well, as its name suggests, it is a system and to function well, it needs balance and harmony. It is basically our body’s defender – from viruses, germs and bacteria. A healthy immune system means we have a better chance of resisting and fighting illnesses.
Here at Wootton Park, we are fortunate to have a wonderful place to offer a varied programme for Retreats, along with a team of experts who we bring in, to facilitate the wellbeing programmes.
Throughout a Wootton Park Wellness Retreat, many of the suggestions made below are demonstrated, advocated and discussed. We truly believe that adopting some of these positive changes into our lives, will help us all feel stronger, healthier and younger!
So what can you do?
How to Boost and Strengthen your Immune System Naturally
1) Wellness Boosting Juices
Our daily ritual is to throw together an easy to make and delicious juice or smoothie. So many fruits, vegetables contain natural properties to aid healing and wellbeing. One of our favourites is the ‘Wellness Wonder Juice’, which is a firm breakfast favourite at our retreats. The juice includes:
Apples (peel on) – nature’s best-known detoxifier. Linked to a lower risk of heart disease and having antioxidant effects, due to the polyphenols this fruit contains.
Pineapples – contain high amounts of manganese, providing vital antioxidant defences. Rich in bromelain, which helps the body digest protein, preventing constipation and promoting a healthy digestive tract.
Ginger – among many other medicinal benefits, it is a well-known antibiotic, with anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger encourages perspiration, is a super decongestant and and can be used to help treat feverish conditions such as influenza or colds.
Lemon – full of vitamin C, it is particularly powerful at removing harmful bacteria and toxins from the intestinal tract and amazing at cleansing the liver and kidneys. Known to control weight, prevent kidney stones, improve digestive health and even help keep some cancers at bay.
There is virtually a limitless amount of delicious juices you can try out to help give your immune system a natural boost. You can find a few more ideas here. A mug of hot water, freshly squeezed lemon and honey harvested from our own bees is also an effective home remedy for treating colds.
2) Immune Boosting Foods
There is a plethora of different foods, which you can incorporate into your diet. Either eaten raw, cooked or both, these foods are known to help boost and strengthen the immune system.
There are many citrus fruits, as well as lemons, that contain considerable quantities of Vitamin C, including oranges, grapefruit and limes. What’s important to note is that your body doesn’t store Vitamin C, so it’s something you need to consume daily.
The darker the vegetable the better, think broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage. Most are packed with natural vitamins (A, C and E), fibre and many other antioxidants, essential in order to fight free radicals.
The list goes on with blueberries, fish, legumes and the occasional slab of good quality dark chocolate. Limit caffeine and drink Redbush (naturally decaffeinated and full of antioxidants) or green/black tea instead.
Protein is essential to build up the immune system, with the cells relying on this powerful nutrient. Protein helps develop and repair body tissue, to fight viral and bacterial infections. Healthy protein-rich foods include fish, eggs, nuts, oats, chicken breast, cheese, pulses and Greek yoghurt.
3) Forest Bathing and Mindful Walking
Getting out everyday for either a short, long, fast or slow walk is a must, regardless of how busy we are. Having an active dog to walk helps.
Mentally, just getting out there, whatever the weather, walking in the woods and breathing in fresh air does wonders to relieve any tension or stress that you are holding on to.
We are big believers in Mindful Walking. Taking time out to clear our minds and bring ourselves back to the present moment, something that seems to be increasingly difficult in our busy and hectic lives. Based on the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku developed in the 1980s, we are definitely converts and advocates of Forest Bathing.
In Japan, doctors prescribe sessions to patients with high blood pressure, anxiety and depression. A two hours walk is believed to be more beneficial than an antidepressant, with the calming effect lasting up to 30 days.
Last year the Woodland Trust recommended Forest Bathing should be among a range of non-medical therapies and activities prescribed by GPs, to boost patients’ wellbeing in the UK.
There are so many wonderful walks to do across the UK, you just need to make sure you have the right clothing, so you can relax, fully enjoy and benefit from this everyday exercise.
4) Getting Some Quality Sleep
The reality is that we simply can’t function without sleep. If any of you have been sleep deprived, you will understand how debilitating this can be.
Sleep is vital for physical and mental health. It’s when our body grows, repairs, heals and rejuvenates itself. The importance of getting some decent shut-eye cannot be emphasised enough. Without it, we cannot think or function properly.
At one time or another in our lives, we will probably all have some trouble sleeping. This could include problems falling asleep or getting back to sleep if you wake up in the night. If you find this happens frequently, try keeping a pad and pen nearby to write down what is bothering you or or an idea you might have. Having cleared your mind, you should be able to fall back to asleep a little more easily.
We’ve also found the book ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker hugely beneficial. A neuroscientist who writes by about why and how more sleep can literally save your life, worth a read.
5) Taking Vitamins
You can try and get all the vitamins you need from the food and drink. However, occasionally, taking vitamins might also be beneficial. Vitamin C is one of them, particularly as winter approaches and if you are feeling a little run down. Your body will simply dispose of the Vitamin C it doesn’t require so it isn’t harmful when taken in the correct dose.
Echinacea is a well-known herb and often advocated for being able to ward off colds. However, the medicinal benefits of this plant have been subject to mixed findings. Although one study couldn’t prove it prevented the development of colds, its usage indicated a positive reduction in its duration.
Our bodies also need adequate levels of Vitamin D, often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Whilst Vitamin D can be found in certain foods including oily fish, one of the best sources of this nutrient is the sunshine. Hence, as winter approaches, a supplement might be necessary.
New research also suggest that having adequate levels of Vitamin D could half the risk of developing fatal coronavirus (Covid-19) complications. Therefore, the important of this vitamin cannot be overestimated.
These are just some of the methods you can try to naturally boost and strengthen your immune system. With winter just around the corner and Covid-19 in circulation, it is more important than ever to reduce our risk of becoming ill.