First of all I hope you and your family are all well!
We are in the middle of global event (Covid-19) that has not been seen before and one of the big observations is that people are scared, confused and anxious.
Do we really need to panic?
The answer to this question can be individual however, I can reveal that I am not panicked but rather ensuring that myself, family and clients are informed and up to date with what you can do now to help build your resilience and strengthen your immune system.
Within our environment we are continuously exposed to many viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that can cause us to become unwell. What can determine our susceptibility to illness is our own current state of health and wellbeing and nutritional intake.
There are nutrients, lifestyle factors and herbal medicine that can be of benefit in helping to possibly prevent ill health and keep you healthy.
Nutritional and herbal medicine is not a cure but rather can make the pathway more difficult for any pathogen (infection) to take hold and make you sick.
Nutritional and herbals to improve the immune response
Most of us could name some key nutrients, such as Vitamin C ,that have been well established to help with immunity. However, below there are some key nutrients and herbs that are also well known to assist with promoting health, particularly assisting immune responses.
Vitamin A is a key nutrient that is required for the strength, function and health of the mucous membranes and cells. Vitamin A should be of benefit with respiratory tract infections, especially lower respiratory tract and it helps with the function of the white blood cells for immunity, acting as one of the first lines of defence. *It is recommended to consult with your health practitioner for advice and recommendations.
Vitamin D is of the most important and currently well researched nutrient for many aspects of health and plays an essential role in immune function particularly in regulating the immune response (which is important with viral infections) and also in mounting a strong immune response. Vitamin D also plays an important role in reducing the inflammatory process which occurs during infection.
Vitamin C has been well known for assisting with immune function. Studies have demonstrated that regular Vitamin C intake can possibly reduce the severity of colds suggesting that regular intake may be useful for immune function and is cost effective.
In combination with other powerful antioxidants including vitamin E, A and selenium, vitamin C may help with the inflammatory process with infection.
Zinc is one of the most well known nutrients for immune health. It plays a vital role in all aspects of immunity particularly the function of immune cells including natural killer cells and neutrophils. Zinc is effective for boosting immune function, may shorten the duration of illness and may help with the replication of viruses.
Andrographis is a traditional herbal medicine that is used to treat a range of illnesses of the respiratory tract including influenza and bronchitis. Trials have indicated a decrease in symptoms in respiratory tract infections, increase in immunity and decreased inflammation with treatment with Andrographis suggesting a preventative effect against infection as well as use during acute infection.
Further important considerations:
Support your gut health!
As a Naturopath and nutritionist improving gut health is our ‘bread and butter’ and with good reason.
The gastrointestinal tract has a tight barrier (single layer of cells) that plays an essential role in regulating immune function. Inflammation or any trauma that occurs within the gut can cause what people know as ‘leaky gut’ which is when this barrier can break down and integrity which can cause changes in immune function.
Common causes include intestinal dysbiosis (bacteria imbalance), constipation, food intolerances and stress and/or anxiety.
Probiotics and prebiotics are important to assist with improving gut health and what we know is that probiotic recommendations are strain specific, meaning that specific strains have specific functions and roles.
The gut brain axis is real. The effects of stress can effect digestive and gut function however, also plays a role in immune function. The production of the hormone cortisol is increased when you are stressed or under pressure and cortisol is linked to immune suppression (decreased immune function).
What tools do you have in your tool box to manage stress?
- breathing techniques
- sleep – make sure you are getting a good, quality sleep
Recognising what helps to reduce your stress is important not only for mental health but also for your physical and immune health.
In combination with the above nutrients and herbal medicines, there are other specific vitamins and herbs that can play a role in supporting the immune system and other areas of health that can be protective against developing ill health associated with infection.
Combined with lifestyle factors and dietary advice the best thing we can all do is build resilience within our bodies using nutritional medicine to support our health and wellbeing.
If you require further assistance with your health or have further questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free discussion or to book an immune health appointment.
For a free printable on Supporting immunity naturally click HERE
*It is recommended to seek advice from a health professional on dosages and to assess if nutritional and/or herbal supplementation is suitable as a complementary medicine.
As with all nutritional and herbal medicines interactions with pharmaceutical medication must be assessed in conjunction with specific health conditions.