For this article I’ve teamed up with Evie Rogers who’s currently undertaking a PhD in infection, inflammation and immunology at the University of Southampton. Together we’ve compiled a list of nutrients worth considering during this viral pandemic.
Evie: “We can’t build immunity against this specific virus without exposure to it, but we can support our immune system to ensure our bodies have the necessary tools to fight it if we do contract it.“
Here is the list of nutrients you might want to ensure are part of your diet and daily routines and the reasons why.
- Vitamin C enhances the function of white blood cells (immune cells) and their production of chemicals that heighten the body’s response to a virus.
- It also helps to increase the number of immune cells in the body.
- Sources: citrus fruit, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli.
*Importantly, Vitamin C is water soluble meaning that you flush down the toilet what you’re body didn’t need so keeping levels topped up daily is essential.
- Zinc is needed for the “killing capacity” of our innate anti-viral defence cells (natural killer cells) against virus-infected cells.
- Many immune-activating chemicals are dependent on zinc-activated factors for their production.
- Sources: beans, poultry, wholegrain and pumpkins seeds
- This vitamin is integral to the normal, healthy function of immune cells in the body.
- Deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to increased risk of infection.
- Because we usually absorb vitamin D from the sun, during the winter months a supplement can prove useful.
- Sources: sunshine and supplements! (I prefer liquid/spray forms).
- Ginger is an anti-oxidant and helps regulate the immune response.
- It has shown to increase IgM levels, which may lead to a stronger antibody response against infections.
- Ginger and lemon tea is a great combination as it gets some vitamin C in there too.
These are some natural approaches to supporting a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system is better able to fight infections and viruses. This is not a replacement for medication and you should always consult with your GP particularly if you are pregnant. These are a few suggestions to go along side proper hygiene practices. If you are concerned that you have contracted a virus then visit the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
What we recommend is making sure your fridges and freezers are full of immune supporting fruit and vegetables. Supplements in this case might be useful. Vitamin sprays might be particularly useful to the elderly, as they allow for better absorption of the vitamins.