Keeping your immune system healthy

Coughing, sneezing, and moaning... does that sound like anyone around you these days? Not forgetting sore throats, chest infections, bunged up heads, and stuffy noses. OK, so just about everyone and their cat is sick at the moment. Besides increasing our vitamin C, is there anything else we can do about it? Thankfully, yes! With good nutrition and by choosing the right foods at the right time, we can speed up the recovery from infection and better yet, prevent recurrence next year.

First, you need to establish why you are getting sick. Take a moment and ask yourself, is it stress? Are you the type of person who gets sick right at the end of a busy/stressful task or time in your life, such as Christmas? Or is it simply low-immunity? Do you pick up whatever ‘bug’ is ‘going around’? Once you can pinpoint why you get sick, you can then take action to prevent it happening. So if your immune system is falling victim to stress, follow these tips:

• Give your body what it needs. In times of stress our adrenal glands use floods of B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid (B5 ). Take a good B-complex vitamin daily (always consult your GP if you are on medication ), or ensure you are eating a wide and varied diet including healthy wholegrains such as oats, buckwheat, and quinoa, legumes such as lentils and split peas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli, with avocados and natural yoghurt being particularly high in B5 (McAdams, 2015 ).

• Swap stimulants like tea and coffee for relaxing herbal teas, such as chamomile and lemon-balm. You can sip these all day, as they are naturally caffeine-free.

• Take a good quality probiotic about a month before you usually get sick, or as soon as other people around you are getting sick.

• Omit processed sugar from your diet. Swap sugary treats for high protein fruit and nut snacks, which you can make yourself by blending nuts with dried apricots/figs/dates. Sugar depletes the immune system, reducing the efficiency of your white blood cells for up to five hours after you have eaten it (Bock, 1997 ).

• Get some sleep. The immune cells your body needs to fight infection are made at night while you sleep, so snuggle up.

This information has been brought to you by nutritional therapist and College of Naturopathic Medicine graduate Donna Walsh. If you would like to find out how you can train at CNM Galway for an exciting new career in naturopathic nutrition, join the college at one of its free open evenings at the Galway Business School, Salthill, at 7pm. To find out more and to reserve your place visit www.naturopathy.ie

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