Strong Immunity is our Super Power! – Julia Arabuli, Barreworks Guest Nutritionist
Hello, I’m Julia. Plenty of you will have seen me over the years at Barreworks and I’m thrilled to get involved now in their Day Retreats and offering tips and advice for nutrition that best supports an active lifestyle. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, many of us (quite rightly) are thinking about our immune defenses and wondering how we can safeguard ourselves now and in the future.
I often like to think of our health as our grow bag.
Our grow bag is our soil, that determines how strong our roots are, and ensures that we thrive and bloom. The grow bag consists of genetic, psychological, neurological, nutritional, hormonal and environmental factors. And as you may have guessed it – our Immune system is very much rooted in our soil. Without the healthy soil, it doesn’t function the way it’s designed to.
The Immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses and bacteria, or any other foreign substances. Its primary role is to DEFEND and to REPAIR. Many conditions are dependant on the health and integrity of the Immune system, and the best approach to supporting the immune function is a comprehensive plan involving lifestyle, stress management, exercise, diet, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant based medicines.
Lets take a look at some of the things we can do to support our Immune system in both our daily life and critical times.
- Healthy Gut
Although the Immune system is made up of many organs, over 60% of our Immune cells are located in our Gut. And it is of utmost importance to keep our gut healthy and happy. We can do this by ensuring we get lots of fibre, and eat lots of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. We need an abundance of different microorganisms in order to thrive. Whether you adopt the approach of ‘Eating a rainbow’ or simply focus on decreasing you’re snacking and processed foods, and increasing seasonal foods and wholefoods, your Gut will thank you!
Probiotics have an ability to be immune modulators, due to specific strains and their impact on the gut flora. You can invest into a multi strain probiotic, such as BioCare Everyday Bio Acidophilus.
- Vital nutrients
Zinc, Vitamin D, C, Omega 3. These are some of the nutrients, which are present in many immune reactions and are needed by the body to defend.
Zinc – you can ensure you are getting enough of these by eating organic meat and fish, and if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can get zinc from sunflower seeds, lentils, cashews, tofu.
Vitamin D – 80% of the British public is deficient in this essential vitamin, which stimulates over 2000 gene expressions. Our body makes a lot of Vitamin D by itself as it converts sunshine into chemicals the body can use. Mushrooms are a wonderful source of vitamin D, and they are also immune-modulators. You can choose from an abundance of mushrooms such as closed cup, chestnut, shiitake, oyster mushrooms and many more.
Vitamin C – is a protective vitamin, it has an antioxidant activity, is an immune system modulator and is cell protective. Most fruit and veggies have some vitamin C, with citrus fruits, kiwis, mangoes, broccoli, and strawberries coming out on top.
Omega 3’s – essential fatty acids that support healthy cognitive function, joint health, and is vital in supporting a healthy response to inflammation. Sources are – fatty fish S.M.A.S.H (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring). Make sure to buy sustainably farmed or wild fish to guarantee the quality. Plant sources are in seeds – chia, flax, hemp, also in avocadoes and beans.
- Herbs to support Immunity
Turmeric – anti-inflammatory
Elderberry – anti-oxidant
Garlic – anti-viral, natural antibiotic
Ginger – anti-inflammatory, natural painkiller
Ginseng – anti-microbial, immune regulators
Oregano – anti-inflammatory, natural antibiotics
- Stress managing techniques
Meditation – it has been proven by science that as little as 10 minutes a day-practiced daily for 1 month will have a positive effect on your wellbeing, and in turn, your immune system.
Exercise – is somewhat a stress on our body, but it’s good stress, one that forces us to repair tissue, become stronger and release endorphins. Movement is proven to improve wellbeing. Another great excuse to book Barre sessions back to back!
Breathwork – we begin our life with a breath, and we will end our life with a breath, it is the most important component of our survival that is widely taken for granted. Focusing on our breath or trying different breathing techniques can awaken, strengthen and invigorate our bodies and minds.
Alternating showers – a great way to practice cold water therapy without swimming outdoors. Besides strengthening your immune system, finishing your daily shower with a cold blast will also lift your mood, and ensure those happy hormones are released.
Being in nature daily – once again science proves that even spending 10 minutes a day in nature will have a hugely positive impact on your mood and general wellbeing. Regulating our stress response by being in nature will ensure we are not only exposed to natural beauty, but that we are also in presence of different microbes, which are vital for our immunity.
Play & have fun – don’t forget that we were all once children, and that part of us never really goes away so, awaken your inner child by having fun and playing. There is no place for stress when you’re having fun.
- Adequate amounts of sleep
Sleep is one of the best medicines that’s available to us daily. Hundreds of replenishing processes within our body happen during our sleep, and uninterrupted, solid sleep is crucial to our health.
Despite living in the busy and polluted cities, we must lay strong and healthy roots in order to grow and thrive, just like trees and all plants. The more we are exposed to external challenges, the more our immune system will learn to defend us.
However, we must also learn to take care of this magical system, to respect it and support it. If we can attend to it daily, we can develop an intuitive response to disease, and though our practice defend the enemies that come in the form of viruses, infections, toxins and other foreign substances.
I once read somewhere that the best practice is the one you do daily. So choose a practice that supports your wellbeing, expands your mind and makes you smile.
Written by Julia Arabuli – Nutritional Therapist based in London, DipCNM mANP, College of Naturopathic Medecine.