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5 ways to support your immune system

Active Lifestyle

Take your immune system to the next level with easy lifestyle changes.

Between hand washing, social distancing, and wiping down surfaces to remove germs, you’ve probably heard plenty lately about how to protect the outside of your body to stay healthy. But what about the inside of your body? The immune system is the body’s unsung hero. Keep reading for five simple ways to support your immune system.

1. Replenish your sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, not only supports strong bones and heart health but also helps our immune system. One of the most popular ways to obtain it is through – as the nickname suggests – exposure to the sun. Although most of us are confined indoors these days, you can still get outside or even find a sun-filled spot by a window in your home (just don’t forget your SPF, even if you are behind glass). There are dietary sources of Vitamin D too, like eating salmon, herring, mushrooms, red meat, dairy and egg yolks.

2. Move your body

Exercise helps your body to eliminate toxins. This is why the World Health Organization recommends adults aged between 16 and 64 do 300-minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 150-minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, per week. There are tons of workouts you can do in your home to meet your 300-minute goal, no matter the size of your space, and you can make the target achievable by breaking it down to 45-minutes a day, or an hour if you only plan on working out five times a week. Remember, variety is essential if you want to maintain motivation so mix things up with some yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a brisk walk or even a spot of gardening.

3. Eat the rainbow

Snacking at home is an easy habit to fall into, and most of the time we’re reaching for anything but fruits and vegetables. This can lead to nutritional gaps in our diet. To keep everything as balanced as possible, make sure you’re eating as many colourful fruits and vegetables as you can.

© Shutterstock
  1. Vitamin C is incredibly valuable when it comes to shoring up your immune system; you’ll find this hard-working antioxidant in broccoli, kale, bell peppers and citrus fruits including Kiwi.

  2. Vitamin E is another antioxidant beneficial for overall good health so be sure to add spinach, avocado, olive oil and almonds to your plate.

  3. Omega-3 helps the normal functioning of your immune cells. Feast on salmon, mackerel, sardines and flax seeds to top up your levels of this essential fatty acid.

4. Rest your body and mind

What’s going on in our mind can impact what’s going on in our bodies. Stress can suppress the power of our immune systems, so finding ways to cope with it is extremely important. You can’t ignore the news but you can manage your interaction with it; try to limit your exposure to news headlines to once in the morning and once in the evening. It’s also important to check in with ourselves every now and then, rather than allow the day to whizz by, so find time during the day for some quiet contemplation. Enjoy a cup of tea on the balcony or in your garden, listen to your favourite music or plug into a meditation app for 10-minutes zen-time. If you’re desk-bound, step away from the screen every hour-or-so for a quick stretch and finish your workday with a wind-down ritual including some light yoga before bed.

© Getty Images

5. Sleep well

Proper sleep is essential for cellular repair and not getting enough of it can weaken our body’s defences. Research shows that we naturally sleep in 90-minute cycles and feel more refreshed and energised when we wake at the end of that cycle, rather than somewhere in the middle. There are plenty of apps to determine the right bedtime for you, based on the time you need to wake in the morning. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, and stay asleep, try a silk eye mask if your bedroom is not completely dark (the silk will also help ward off fine lines) and wear comfortable earplugs if you sleep alongside a noisy partner!

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