There are certain times of the year when it can feel as if you get one virus after another. If you are struggling with the latest virus – be it a cold, flu or the norovirus then you may need some extra immune support.

There are many ways to support your immune system when it is under pressure, you may find a combination of approaches is more beneficial than just one or two changes.  Here are a few suggestions:

Alter your diet

What we eat can have a profound effect on how our immune system functions.

  • Avoid sugar – this can reduce your immune functioning. Alcohol and white refined goods are best avoided as well
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – the more colour and variety the better. Aim for 7+ portions a day.  Include citrus fruits, blueberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, broccoli, peppers, squash, kale, cauliflower and reishi and shitake mushrooms
  • Make an immune supportive veggie rich soup – whether you are feeling unwell or simply want to stay well, soup can be great for increasing your veggie intake
  • Keep hydrated – aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day. This helps to flush things through the body
  • Try some super green smoothies – spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass are all very cleansing and offer a vast array of vital nutrients

Make lifestyle changes

  • Keep good hand hygiene – washing hands regularly prevents you from passing your bugs on and stops you picking up someone else’s
  • Get good sleep – this is the time when the body repairs itself and a lack of sleep can reduce immune functioning
  • Reduce stress and stay active – stress is known to affect the immune system and being moderately active not only helps reduce stress but supports immune functioning. Meditation, tai chi and yoga are also beneficial.

Take extra nutrients and herbs

  • Vitamin C – well known as having a role in immune functioning it has also been shown to reduce symptoms of a cold and help you get better quicker
  • Probiotics – research into the healthy bacteria in the gut have shown they have an important part to play in keeping a healthy immune system, this makes sense as much of the immune system is located within the gut
  • Zinc – this mineral is found in every cell in the body and a lack of zinc can affect immunity
  • Beta glucans 1,3 1,6 – this molecule, found in oyster mushrooms and yeast, supports a specific type of white blood cell that is responsible for “mopping up” invading bacteria and viruses
  • Echinacea – this traditional remedy has been around for centuries and can be used if you are unwell or if you are trying to prevent an infection
  • Black elderberry – also known as Sambucus nigra, has been shown to be of particular use with a viral infection and may reduce symptoms experienced
  • Olive leaf, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver – all used historically for extra support during a viral infection
  • Astragulus – this herb has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is known to be protective, it not only helps the immune system but also aids with stress.

Whatever virus comes your way, there is plenty of natural support to choose from.