Plymstock Reflexology

Blog. Immunity boosting foods


Boosting your Immunity

In light of what is going on in the world at the moment and the fear around Coronavirus, Instead of panicking (after all what good are 100 toilet rolls going to do for you!) It's good to know what steps you can take to help to boost and strengthen your immune system. There are always bacteria and viruses around us, it is how our body deals with it that is important.

The Immune system is amazing and its job is to defend our body from foreign substances. Unfortunately with the way things have changed and progressed in the world today, the immune systemโ€™s job has become harder. Due to the growth in the population around the world, the way that a lot of our food is farmed today with the use of chemicals, exposure to technology, such as mobile phones, the fast pace in the work place, and our very stressful busy lives, our Immune systems are under a lot of strain to function effectively.

What can you do to strengthen your Immune system?

Diet
I believe that what we eat is one of the most important factors when it comes to immunity. After all our gut is a vital part of our immune system and if it is happy, then generally we are too. When it comes to nutrition, the best advice is to eat as naturally and organically as possible. A good healthy diet will include
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Whole grains and pulses
Probiotics food such as natural yoghurt which will help our gut to become stronger and more efficient. Other natural probiotics can also be found in sauerkraut, which a type of fermented cabbage, kefir a yoghurt type drink and Kombucha, a type of flavoured tea drink).
Protein, which helps to form the immune tissues and antibodies; essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and 6 and complex carbohydrates (such as vegetables and wholegrains).

Try to avoid foods such as: sugar, white bread, white rice, chocolate, biscuits, fizzy drinks, fast foods and excess dairy products. These foods are anti nutrients so they are taking away nutrients given to you by other foods. Also Alcohol affects the absorption of many vitamins that are needed by the body to function properly. It is advisable to keep alcohol consumption down in order to limit deficiencies, especially when you are ill.
Intermittent fasting has also been reported to strengthen the immune system and help cleanse the body.

It is also crucial to drink enough water in order to flush out impurities and thus help the body to get rid of toxins and pathogens.

Supplements
If you are eating a well-balanced, whole food diet with lots of fruits and vegetables that are organically grown then you might not need to take a supplement. If you are specifically looking at boosting your immunity then a good quality anti-oxidant would be good to take. This includes vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium,particularly Zinc and vitamin C. These nutrients stimulate immune function. Vitamin D is also really important at this time of year as with all of the grey days, we just donโ€™t get enough sunshine to make this vitamin.
Echinacea is an antimicrobial and boosts the immune system
Some natural alternatives include:
Garlic, which is a natural antibiotic and Turmeric which is an anti-inflammatory.
Tea made with lemon, ginger and honey, is great for coughs, sore throats and colds.
High doses of Vitamin C

Sleep and relaxation
Sleep gives the body a chance to maintain and repair its cells. The immune system triggers the release of Melatonin, which is sleep inducing, while fighting infection to help the healing process. Sleep helps the body conserve energy and resources needed to fight infection. Melatonin is produced naturally while we sleep and is extremely beneficial for the immune system. It is a powerful antioxidant and stimulates the cells of the immune system. It is therefore vital that we get enough sleep.

Relaxation techniques have the opposite effect to that of stress. Blood pressure drops, pulse rate and breathing rate fall, muscles relax and arteries dilate. There is also a remarkable effect on psychological distress as they help alleviate depression, anxiety, fatigue and negative emotions. People who practice relaxation techniques usually enjoy life more, have better relationships and perform better. Relaxation can take many forms, it does not mean inactivity. Techniques include meditation, listening to soothing music ,relaxing in a warm bath, having a massage, having a Reflexology treatment or reading a book. Meet up with family or friends that you enjoy being with, and have a good laugh, It has been found that laughter has the opposite effect of stress on the body and is very good for our immune system. Spending time with people we love and giving and receiving hugs improves the activity of natural defence cells, which seek out and destroy pathogens in the body.

Exercise
Moderate exercise strengthens the immune system. It also improves our circulation, which means that nutrients, immune cells and oxygen are distributed around the body. Exercise is not only good for us physically but it improves our Mental health too. dy but also psychologically. Exercise improves our mood and self-esteem and can be beneficial to our performance and relationships. It can alleviate depression and anxiety, making you feel more positive and able to sleep better. Exercise helps to cope with stress as it offers a form of release. It is advisable to do some form of moderate exercise that you enjoy. It could be going for a walk, gardening, swimming, yoga, pilates or dancing. Care should be taken if you are ill as your immune system is overloaded fighting infection and your body will not be as strong as it usually is. If there is no fever, then moderate exercise might help and make you feel a bit better.
Too much or too intense exercise though can would only exacerbate the symptoms and prolong healing and put too much strain on your heart.

Positive thoughts
Research has proven that by having positive thoughts, the immune response is strengthened. Positive thoughts lead to positive emotions, which in turn stimulate the body to release endorphins and stimulate the immune response. On average we have around 60000 thoughts a day, the majority of which are repetitive. You have no power over anyone but yourself and you choose your thoughts. You can therefore choose to have positive healing thoughts. Try it and watch the aches and pains disappear and lightness and peace appear.

Reflexology
Having a treatment at the first sign of illness which is usually a feeling of being 'run down', an unusual fatigue, really helps to boost the immune system and shorten the duration of symptoms. Listen to your body and rest after a treatment and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results, it really does work!

Take care everyone.










Veganuary and Food Intolerances

Me and my family decided to do Veganuary. We didn't think January was a long enough month, so why not make it feel longer by doing Dry January AND eating a plant based diet! ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜‚. Hence to say Dry January lasted for 2 weeks! ๐Ÿคฃ
Before we started on our plant based journey I was a little daunted by it and asked for advice from anyone who had tried it and was surprised that quite a few people were either already eating plant based or had given it a go,and their advice was really useful.
I have to say i expected it to be a challenge, although being us, I knew we wouldn't give up on it (we had already done Dry Jan last year so that didn't feel like a new challenge) but I was very surprised by how much easier it was to do than I expected.
We have had some amazing food, mostly food that I've prepared from scratch, due to my husband being intolerant to Soya and the majority of processed vegan foods do contain it. It also means you don't spend your life looking at Food labels!๐Ÿ˜ณ
Things we have discovered:

* We like Oat milk (Oatly is amazing, if a little expensive so we have had a combination of this and supermarkets own brand.
*We've discovered Jackfruit - I had never heard of it before but it is easily available in a tin and you shred it, so it's texture is like pulled pork or shredded chicken and although it has little taste, it absorbs the flavours that you cook with.
* Dairy free butter tastes the same as dairy.
*Vegan cheese is not as bad as people say. It's fine if you like a mild cheese and really easy to grate, less crumbly than normal.
*Nutritional yeast makes an excellent 'cheese' sauce.
* Nothing replaces an Egg - We used a Vegan egg replacement made from chickpea flour which was quite batter like, and we made an omelette with it which was quite similar and scrambled 'eggs' which were a little different and my son called them rubbery ๐Ÿค” but we do like Eggs, and eggs on toast is a regular breakfast in our house, so Eggs were missed, and Yorkshire puddings! ๐Ÿ˜ญ
*Some everyday things you wouldn't even realise are plant based,: Crumpets, Popcorn, Digestive biscuits, Peanut butter on toast!

Do we feel any better for it? It's difficult to say, as we have all spent the last week or two with coughs/colds, which we rarely suffer from, but then it is winter. I think generally I have had more energy, but the most important thing is that since giving up dairy, My sons eczema, which he has had on his hand since he was little, has Completely DISAPPEARED! So if anyone in your family suffers, I would definitely recommend giving it a try, there are so many dairy replacements (Even Magnum ice cream!) available it that it's not such an onerous task.
My son has actually been brilliant with this challenge, he embraced it and was so self regulating with it, he amazed me, he would avoid certain school meals because he 'didn't want to risk it' his words and we had said to him it didn't matter if he slipped up. He actually gave his classmates school birthday sweets away because he knew they had gelatine in. So proud of him. This has been an enlightening experience for us all but especially educational for the kids.
What we are taking from this experience is that you don't need meat to have a great meal. We have had Chilli, Curry, Lasagne, Stew, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, pizzas, pasties and much more ๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿฒ๐Ÿฅ™ All home made and very delicious.
We did miss our Sunday roast but never missed meat at any other time so we plan to each much less now, although I probably need to get a veg chopper as I've already lost many hours in the kitchen doing that! ๐Ÿ˜‚
A lot of people were surprised when we started this and probably thought we wouldn't manage the month but I'm glad that we jumped down the rabbit hole and were open to experiencing something different, both for the sake of the environment and our health. If you are thinking about trying a plant based diet, I would say give it a try, it's easier than you think,and it's not all rabbit food down the rabbit hole! ๐Ÿฐ

Just a note about Food intolerance. Many of us have them to a greater or lesser degree and they can affect us in various ways. My husband is intolerant to Soya but he could never have found this out himself. Soya is in many things so when he suffered with bloating, excess gas and fatigue, it was difficult to know where it came from. So he did an online intolerance test, the one where you have to send your hair sample off. i know people can be sceptical about these but I think they are useful for giving you a starting point for your intolerances and then you can scrutinise individual foods and how you feel after eating them. Since then all of my family have tried them and my son who has had eczema on his hands since he was a baby has managed to eradicate this since we removed dairy from his diet after it was listed.


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