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Immune support action plan

Allergies are caused by an altered immune response to substances that are usually harmless. They are not only triggered by pollens and fungi which are at their most prolific at this time of year. Many people suffer year round with allergies to foods, animal fur or chemicals. The symptoms of allergies range from blocked sinuses, foggy-headedness, tight chest, watering eyes, sneezing and itching to IBS, asthma, fatigue and depression. An optimally functioning immune system is an important focus when managing allergies. Immune support action plan.

1. Ensure your intake of antioxidants

Antioxidantsare important protector nutrients. They destroy destructive substances called free radicals. Free radicals attack cell membranes and our bodies are subjected to them on a daily basis, from, for example normal metabolic processes, medications, stress and pollutants. Healthy cell membranes are vital to immunity since they act as protective barriers against foreign invaders.

Fruit and vegetables are the best food sources of antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E and the minerals zinc and selenium are the primary antioxidant nutrients. There are also many plant antioxidants e.g. catechins from green tea, curcumin (from turmeric), pine bark and grapeseed.

2. Ensure intake of other specific nutrients

Vitamin A strengthens the delicate outer membranes of the nose, throat, digestive tract and lungs. These membranes are the first line of defence against attack from the outside. Vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of infection. We are talking about vitamin A “proper” here or retinol, not beta carotene which has to be converted into vitamin A and is not always done so efficiently.

Vitamin C is a major immune support nutrient. Eat more peppers, watercress, cabbage, blackcurrants, peas, strawberries, lemons, kiwi fruit, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes.

sometimes referred to as vitamin P, are potent antioxidants which occur naturally with vitamin C. In plants, flavonoids help protect against cell damage, parasites and bacteria. They help promote good circulation of blood to lung tissue and support healthy immune function. Found in peppers, berries and citrus fruits.

Zinc is absolutely vital for a healthy immune system. The production and function of immune cells and immune related hormones are all dependent on adequate zinc levels. A poor sense of taste or smell, reduced appetite, frequent infections and white spots on the nails may be signs of zinc deficiency. Stress, alcohol and pollution deplete zinc levels. A very high fibre diet is likely to interfere with zinc absorption. Zinc is not found abundantly in foods apart from meat such as lamb and seafood. The best vegetarian sources are pecan nuts, oats, rye, dried split peas and ground pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin D is vitally important for immune function. It is now recognized that deficiency is much more widespread across the whole population than was previously thought. The body will make vitamin D but it needs sunlight to do so. Advice to cover up and use high factor sun protection creams as well as the fact that we aren’t overwhelmed with sunshine in the UK, makes us vulnerable to low vitamin D. Food sources: butter, cheese, oily fish, seeds.

3. Alkalise your diet

Excess acidity goes hand in hand with chronic diseases and will weaken your defences. Vegetables and fruit are supremely alkalizing. Other alkalising foods are avocados, fresh coconut, maple syrup and molasses. Fresh vegetable juices are highly recommended not only for their alkalising effect but to supply concentrated antioxidants.

4. Keep these foods low

Chemically modified (hydrogenated) oils and fats. These will mostly be found in baked goods, ready meals and confectionary. Sugar blocks the uptake of vitamin C, a key immune enhancing vitamin and it provides ideal food for yeast organisms to flourish in your gut. Alcohol and processed food full of additives give the liver a lot of extra detoxification work to do.

5. Relaxation

Do everything you can to manage stress. The adrenal glands help defend the body against stress and infection. If we are constantly stressed the adrenals are producing large quantities of adrenalin which has a wear and tear effect on the body. Strong negative emotions and stress also contribute to acidity and are known to weaken immunity.

6. Exercise

Exercise regularly to stimulate the lymphatic circulation which is the body’s waste disposal system. Use a natural bristle brush to dry skin brush, stroking towards the heart before bathing or showering is also great for stimulating lymphatic flow. A cardiovascular workout will help sweat out toxins and burn off excess adrenaline which the body produces under stress.