Maintaining the health and wellness of your entire family is important all year round, but particularly during winter when immune health might be compromised, and we can quickly develop those nasty common cold or flu symptoms. Our immune system is a lot more complicated than it might seem, with a variety of cells, hormones and organs all working together to fight off any illness. There are many ways we can improve our immune health from the food we eat, the amount we exercise and even our sleep patterns.
Consume a healthy, balanced diet
Fresh fruit and vegetables not only taste great, but they’re also filled with vitamins and minerals that help our immune system. These include vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin E can also be found in nuts and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These foods are all a source of antioxidants, which play a key role in our immune system1.
Consuming a diet high in polyphenols can also provide anti-inflammatory effects, which helps our immune health2. Polyphenols are a group of compounds found naturally in plant foods that act as antioxidants. This means they reduce the formation of free radicals in our body, which can damage our cells. Food sources of polyphenols include fruits, vegetables, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, legumes and some grains. These foods are typically included in the Mediterranean Diet, which you can read about here. A well balanced diet will keep your immune system healthy and ready to tackle any illnesses that come your way.
Take Olive Leaf Extract daily
One type of polyphenol called oleuropein is found in olive leaf extract and has been shown to support our immune health due to its antioxidant properties. Olive leaf extract can be consumed every day, with both capsules and liquid available. Taking an olive leaf extract supplement such as Wellgrove Immune Support Olive Leaf Extract, traditionally used in western herbal medicine, can also help to relieve symptoms of common colds or the flu if you do find yourself unwell.
Regular exercise has been shown to help cardiovascular health, mental health and body weight control but did you know it can also benefit our immune health3? Exercise helps with good overall health and wellbeing, which links to our immune system, but more directly, the link is thought to be through the impact exercise has on our circulation. An effective circulation means the cells that make up our immune system can move through the body and perform their job efficiently. The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines currently recommend being active on most, preferable all days of the week and aiming for 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity activity each week for adults4. For the younger ones in the family, the guidelines suggest 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity across the day, in addition to several hours of light physical activity.
However, it is always recommended that you check with your health professional before starting any physical activity if you are not used to regular activity.
Have adequate sleep each night
We’re sure you’ve probably heard it before, but a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health, all whilst helping improve your immune system. Sleep and immune health have an impact on each other, meaning a poor immune system, such as when you’re sick, can negatively affect sleep, and good sleep patterns can strengthen your immunity5. Sufficient amounts of quality sleep can improve your bodies ability to fight infections and other foreign bodies, so it’s important when you’re sick and when you’re well to have good sleep health5. If you or anyone in your family have trouble sleeping, some steps include having a consistent sleep schedule, and avoiding screens close to bed time. Seeking help from a GP can also be crucial for improving sleep health, and ultimately your immune health.
Always read the labels. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
- Lee, G. & Han, S. (2018). The Role of Vitamin E in Immunity. Nutrients. 10(11):1614. doi:10.3390/nu10111614 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266234/
- Childs, C., Calder, P. & Miles, E. (2019). Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients. 11(8):1933. doi:10.3390/nu11081933 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). How To Boost Your Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
- Department of Health. (2019). Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines
- Sleep Foundation. (2020). How Sleep Affects Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity