Emma Davies’ Top Immunity Tips
We are well and truly nose-diving into winter now, with all the sniffles and sneezes that come with it. Yes, we have Leapfrog IMMUNE in our arsenal – a power punch to coughs and colds with its chewable formulation of anti-viral Lactoferrin, with Zinc and Vitamin C. But there are many other ways we can give our immune system a fighting chance of fending off seasonal bugs. We asked Leapfrog’s nutritionist, the self-confessed science geek Emma Davies of NatureDoc (DipNUT, MBANT, CNHC) what’s in her winter toolkit.
Lactoferrin. One of my favourite immune boosters. This underused protein can indeed be a game changer in gut healing, microbial balance and immune modulation. What I love about lactoferrin is that you’re using something that naturally modulates the immune system, because a lot of the things that we know about – like echinacea, that are in preventative sprays – can be very stimulating. Where lactoferrin is so special is because we make it naturally in the body, so you get a much more nuanced approach when you use something that’s naturally within you.
Vitamin C, the WONDER vitamin. We can’t make it in the body, so we need to make sure we eat foods rich in vitamin C. It supports cellular and antibody immunity in a myriad of ways as well as being an antioxidant – quenching oxidative stress and lowering inflammation. It’s absolutely my “go-to” vitamin for immunity. Aim to include citrus fruits, blackcurrants, peppers, mango etc in your diet.
Zinc. You can’t make it in the body, so again you need to eat foods rich in zinc. It’s a well-known immune booster and its effects on the immune system are multiple. Primarily, it activates enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria, so they are less able to spread. Recent research suggests that zinc helps control infections by gently tapping the brakes on the immune response in a way that prevents out-of-control inflammation that can be so dangerous.
Beta carotene. You really must “eat the rainbow” – colourful fruit and veg. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants. The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies, and leafy greens. Adding these foods to your diet can help promote a strong immune system.
Bone broth. This is so healing to the gut, reducing inflammation and helping heal intestinal permeability (leaky gut). It’s chock full of collagen and amino acids that help support mucosal integrity. Gut health is of course a key player in immune function.
Ginger, the immune-boosting spice. The antioxidant compounds in ginger root have potent anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties and research shows ginger has anti-microbial properties, thereby reducing illness and disease. Used in Ayurvedic medicine, it also cleanses the lymphatic system – helping us rid the body of unwanted toxins. Try Ginger tea or ginger essential oils.
Reishi Mushroom. A medicinal mushroom, it contains multiple bioactive compounds that have a proactive effect on our immune systems. Reishi mushrooms are said to boost the function of dendritic cells, which play an important role in helping other cells recognise foreign antigens and destroy them. They also promote B and T lymphocytes that are involved in the production of antibodies as well as the regulation of immune function.
Green tea. We love its immunomodulatory properties. It may have antifungal and antiviral properties and again, it’s full of antioxidants to help the body strengthen its defences.
Oregano. Oregano essential oil is known for its healing and immune-boosting properties. It fights infections naturally due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds.
Probiotics. Also known as “good bacteria” in foods or supplements. Because leaky gut is a major cause of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease and immune imbalance or a weakened immune system, it’s important to consume probiotic foods/fermented foods on a daily basis. Probiotic foods will improve the gut mucosal immune system and increase the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestines, thereby strengthening immunity.
Vitamin D. A key factor in immune resilience, it modulates the innate and adaptive immune response. Lower levels of vitamin D are linked with poor immunity and an increased risk of infection.
Lifestyle. Exercise improves immune resilience. Sleep is essential, and the key hours are from 10 pm-6 am. Try to reduce your stress levels. Take cold showers or try cold water swimming. Reduce your alcohol intake and try an infrared sauna – the use of an infrared sauna boosts the immune system by increasing white blood cell production, helping to detoxify, boost cell regeneration, and promote relaxation.