Showing your immune system some love usually means grabbing a few extra oranges at the supermarket or making a batch of chicken soup at the first sign of a sniffle. But in this post-pandemic reality, supercharging immune function has become the world’s new favourite sport.
The upside is, good health has never been so hot. The bad news? The rush of questionable info flooding our feeds. We asked the experts what actually works when it comes to building your body’s defences. Meet the legit ways to stay happy, healthy and energised this year
1. Eat well
Every second post on the ’gram right now is telling you exactly what to eat to “boost” your immunity. But, fun fact: “you can’t ‘boost’ your immune system,” says public health nutritionist Shelley Judge.
“Instead, it’s about maintaining it.” To keep it running well you simply need food. “A healthy, balanced diet, with all foods in moderation, can play a role in ensuring we’re getting adequate nutrients.”
There’s so many different nutrients in different-coloured foods, so it’s important to try to get lots of colours onto your plate.”
While you’re there, add some salmon, avo or raw nuts. “Healthy fats have also been shown to support the function of our immune cells.
2. Think zinc
“We definitely know that dietary deficiencies, such as not having enough zinc, can negatively impact the immune system.
Dose up on pepitas, oysters, red meat and – if you can handle it – “organ meats like liver and kidneys can help to get levels up pretty quickly.
3. Be mindful
Strange but true: you can fight bugs with your mind. Stress isn’t just an emotion, it causes a physical response, too – one that can suppress the immune system. “Mindfulness cultivates self-awareness … this empowers us to catch ourselves in loops of thought that have the power to keep our bodies in a stress response.
There’s science to back up its effectiveness at fighting infections: a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that participants who took an eight-week mindfulness program had a stronger immune response when challenged with the flu injection compared to those who’d skipped the meditation course.
4. Catch Zzzs
Good news, nappers: sleep is vital for your immunity. “During sleep, the immune system releases a protein called cytokines, and these are needed to combat infections.