Immunity. It’s definitely made its way around our news feeds this past year. If you can cast your mind back to biology class, or perhaps even the recent horrors of home-schooling, at its base it simply refers to the immune system’s ability to defend the body against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses (which we are exposed to every day). The immune system itself is an amazingly complicated network of cells and proteins that work together to protect the body against infection. Quite literally, a human bodyguard. Joanne Kwok, Lead Dietitian and Nutritionist at John Bell & Croyden, official pharmacists to her Majesty the Queen, explains how to get your immune system feeling healthy this summer. As lockdown eases and we head out of hibernation to enjoy the warmer days, it’s important to make sure that our immune system also stays in shape. And luckily, it doesn’t involve a gym membership...
Nutrition…it’s more than just a gut feeling
Nutrition is an important element when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system. We’ve seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic a barrage of advice on how to “boost” your immune system, with encouragements to seek out Vitamin C and foods rich in antioxidants.
The design of our immune system is incredibly complex, and research has shown that each stage of the immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. This points to the importance of keeping a healthy balanced diet consisting of the range of vitamins and minerals that our cells, including those of our immune system, rely on for healthy function. This, combined with healthy lifestyle factors, most effectively primes the body to fight infection and disease.
Conversely, deficiency of single nutrients can alter the body’s immune response and make it more susceptible to infection. Eating a good healthy diet can prevent these deficiencies, and where that’s not possible, multivitamin supplements provide a safe alternative to fill these nutritional gaps. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, for instance, can sometimes find themselves at higher risk of certain deficiencies, including calcium, iron and vitamin B12. These nutrients are usually found in red meat, and despite vegetarian options being available, the amount needed is unlikely to be enough to constitute a balanced diet.
We recommend One Nutrition’s B12-Max Oral Spray, a highly absorbable vegan source of Vitamin B12 that comes in the form of a spray, ensuring fast and effective absorption and making it a convenient alternative to tablets and capsules. B12-Max contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It is a simple and convenient way to top up B12 levels, supporting a healthy immune system.
For those who omit fish and seafood as part of their diet, it may be worth considering supplementing omegas. Scientists have given essential fats (EFAs) – omega-6 and omega-3 – their name as the body needs them to survive but cannot synthesise them from any other substance we eat, meaning a direct food source is required (hence being ‘essential’). Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of a healthy diet and are associated with lower levels of inflammation. Vegetable oils, nuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are also naturally high in omegas and can be included as part of a balanced diet.
Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend 3,6,9 provides a premium natural source of vegan and unprocessed essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega 3, 6 & 9 in the ideal ratio that supports optimum health.
One Nutrition’s Organic Black Seed Oil is another great supplement with lots of benefits. Firstly, it is made exclusively from organic Egyptian black seed (nigella sativa). With a pleasant aroma and taste, it is also vegan and organic and can be taken internally off the spoon, or used as part of a salad dressing.
Black Seed Oil (known as ‘The Blessed Seed’) is said to have a wide number of benefits and has been used for thousands of years in the Middle East and Far East. It has been traditionally used as food and in general health & wellbeing to support the immune system and to maintain skin, hair, nail and heart health. Interestingly, it has also been studied for its role in respiratory distress conditions.
When it comes to the star of the show however, the spotlight is on Vitamin D…
Vitamin D is recognised as an essential vitamin for health and it is an essential part of keeping the immune system healthy. It is also linked to reducing inflammation and some cancers. There are three sources of vitamin D: sunlight, food and vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D continues to be important of our diet and a supplementation of 400IU daily (equivalent to 10ug) is generally recommended, particularly in the winter months, where the NHS advises everyone to take vitamin D to keep their bones and muscle healthy.
One Nutrition D3-Max is a simple, and tasty way to top up your Vitamin D3 levels, whilst the unique lichen extract makes it one of few vegan choices of this essential daily vitamin. Just one spray of this unique high strength formula provides 500IU of vitamin D3. This means you can modulate the dosage according to age, condition and time of year – a perfect way to brighten your immune system, especially during our famous British winters.
Please note that the above is intended for general advice and does not replace a balanced healthy diet and the need to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner. Speak to your doctor or dietitian prior to taking any of the above especially if you are currently taking medication or are following a particular diet.
Joanne Kwok is Lead Dietitian and Nutritionist at John Bell & Croyden. Established in 1798 John Bell & Croyden has been pharmacists to Her Majesty The Queen since 1958 and holds the Royal Warrant. Our Wigmore Street store has introduced hundreds of globally sourced well-being and beauty products to the UK market over the last 220 years and we are passionate about putting health and well-being first https://johnbellcroyden.co.uk/