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8 steps to support your immune system

With so much information out there, we know it is hard to know what to do for the best. The good news is that we are sharing our 8 step plan to help you keep your immune system in tip-top shape!

Step One –Eat a good breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it often gets the short straw. So many of us are on-the-go either running around after our families or managing busy routines that often breakfast is reduced to a cup of strong coffee or a pastry. Unfortunately, this is definitely weakening your immune system, which relies on a strong balance of nutrients to function at optimum levels.

A famous study by the University of Cardiff found that participants who had caught an infection were less likely to have eaten breakfast and there’s research indicating that wholegrain cereals may be able to give your immune system a much needed boost.

Normally we would be telling you to try and eat healthy all the time but I appreciate that this isn’t always an attainable goal. What we will say though, is to at least try and start the day well and give your immune system the fuel it needs to operate properly. 

Porridge is a good option – not only will porridge help to keep you feeling full it’s also high in fibre. By adding in some berries and flax seeds will give you added vitamin C and omega fatty acids.

Step Two– Increase your intake of vitamin C

Vitamin C is absolutely essential for your immune health but it cannot be synthesised by your body, it has to be absorbed in your diet. It can work as an antioxidant, reducing stress and damage to healthy cells.

As well as supporting the immune system, vitamin C is also crucial for your skin and cardiovascular health. There are plenty of dietary sources of vitamin C to choose from; dark green leafy vegetables, brightly coloured fruits – all of these are rich in vitamin C. 

However, if you still don’t feel you’re getting enough, you may want to try a supplement. We have plenty of Vitamin C options to choose from. 

Step Three – Get outdoors

Okay, so you’re eating a balanced breakfast and have upped your intake of vitamin C, not too tricky, but the next step might be a hurdle for a few of you. While there is something to be said for getting plenty of rest (more on this later!), making sure you spend some time outdoors is still an important step when it comes to supporting your immune system. Exercising outside, whether it’s a brisk walk or a 5K run, will help to lower your stress levels and boost your circulation – good news for your immune function! However, getting outdoors will also expose you to more sunlight, allowing your body to synthesise vitamin D.

Studies have even shown that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with autoimmune diseases, not to mention, research has indicated that vitamin D is also involved in the activation T cells within the immune system, helping to fight off pathogens and viruses!

It’s even thought that Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition that affects many at this time of year, could be related to vitamin D deficiencies. Since low mood and stress can impact your immune function, it seems as though a little extra vitamin D can go a long way. But what if you still don’t feel as though you’re getting enough?

If exercising outdoors isn’t an option or you still don’t feel you’re getting enough vitamin D, you could try a natural supplement. Our favourite would have to be Better You’s Vitamin DLux 1000 Spray, which delivers a potent dose of vitamin D in an easily absorbable form. Infused with a natural peppermint flavour, it’s extremely effective and easy to take on-the-go! 

Step Four – Look after your gut!

Not only do we need to look after our immune system but also our digestive system. Over 70% of your immune cells are located in your gut and excessive amounts of refined sugars and processed fats can drastically alter your population of gut flora.

This can have a number of unhappy consequences for the rest of your body, including symptoms such as bloating and constipation. So it would be good to include a few servings of fruit and veg and perhaps find alternatives for sugary treats like chocolate when possible.

It might also be a good idea to consider a prebiotic and probiotic combination. Prebiotics work to create a healthy gut environment providing food for the good bacteria, which can be supplied by a good probiotic. We would recommend starting with A.Vogel’s Molkosan, a prebiotic which contains L+ lactic acid to help feed the friendly gut bacteria. You could follow this up with Optibac’s Probiotics Daily Immunity Capsules, which help to promote a healthy immune system.

Step 5 – Remember zinc

Zinc deficiency is a real problem in many countries, including the UK and the USA. It’s far more prevalent than low levels of vitamin D or vitamin C, yet zinc is still just as essential for supporting the immune system. One of the real problems is that the zinc we sometimes get from our food isn’t easily absorbed by the rest of our body which is bad news for the immune system as zinc is vital for white blood cells, enabling them to hunt and kill bacteria and viruses.

Without zinc, these patrolmen will become sluggish, meaning that viruses and pathogens will find it easier to invade your body, making you more predisposed to colds and flus. While many traditional foods are now fortified with zinc, such as cereals and milk, We would consider a supplement, especially if your immune system is already vulnerable.

There are a number of zinc supplements you can pick from, but I would always opt for zinc citrate or zinc picolinate, as these are easier for your body to absorb, meaning you’ll get the most benefit out of them. Lamberts’ Zinc Tablets are a good option as they use zinc citrate and provide a good 25mg dose. They’re also easy to swallow and you only need one a day!

Step 6 – Try Echinaforce

If you do start to feel those first few niggling symptoms – the blocked nose, the ache in the back of the throat – then I would definitely reach for some Echinaforce. This incredible remedy comes again from A.Vogel and they offer a variety of different forms of Echinaforce – as a hot drink, a tincture or a tablet.

We would opt for the tincture as it is more easily absorbed and therefore, faster in action. It’s great for combatting cold and flu symptoms and can even reduce the length of your cold so you make a speedier recovery. Prepared using organically cultivated Echinacea, a flowering herb with a long history of strengthening the immune system, most forms of Echinaforce are 100% suitable for adults and children over the age of 12.

If you want learn more, please click on the video below!

Step 7 – Drink! Drink! Drink!

What your body really needs at this time is plenty of plain water – this helps to keep you fighting fit and can even aid with the elimination of toxins from the body. Without water things can go downhill very quickly and your immune system will definitely suffer, along with most of your body’s other functions.

Hot drinks such as herbal teas may also have additional benefits too. Green tea is a great source of antioxidants, while peppermint and cinnamon teas are known to have calming properties for the digestive system. A.Vogel even offers an Echinaforce Hot Drink to help soothe cold and flu symptoms! 

Step 8 – Rest and Relaxation

Finally, if there’s one thing we want you to remember is to rest and relax. Most of us have a horrible habit of trying to power through any cold or flu symptoms we’re suffering from, and many of us will be suffering from additional stresses that can easily affect our sleep patterns and immune function.

It might sound difficult but try and find a moment just to take a breath. Make sure you’re getting plenty of good quality sleep and set aside some time for the things you want to do, whether that’s kicking back with a novel or doing something creative.

Our Jay-Vee Capsules, one of Jan de Vries’s own formulas that contains a soothing blend of chamomile, hops and lemon balm can help gently lower stress levels so you feel more like your old self.