Dr Zoe Williams’ Tips for Supporting Immunity

Guest post by

Dr Zoe Williams

Dr Zoe Williams MBBS, DRCOG, MRCGP is a practicing NHS GP and media medic. Currently one of the resident GP’s on ITV’s popular daytime show This Morning in addition to presenting for the BBC’s ‘The One Show’, ‘Horizon’ and ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’.

Author views are not our own.

Dr Zoe Williams’ Tips for Supporting Immunity

Guest post by

Dr Zoe Williams

Dr Zoe Williams MBBS, DRCOG, MRCGP is a practicing NHS GP and media medic. Currently one of the resident GP’s on ITV’s popular daytime show This Morning in addition to presenting for the BBC’s ‘The One Show’, ‘Horizon’ and ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’.

Author views are not our own.

Iron

Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system, and it’s not uncommon for levels to be compromised in females due to increased demand brought on by the menstrual cycle. Good sources of iron include green leafy veg, legumes (such as beans, lentils and chick peas), seeds and nuts and meat. Our bodies can find it more difficult to absorb iron from plant sources, so for people who don’t eat meat it is advisable to add a source of vitamin C to your meal as Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption. It captures non-haem (plant) iron and stores it in a form that your body can absorb more easily. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, peppers, kiwi, and strawberries.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key role in contributing to normal immune function. In the UK it’s recommended to supplement our diet with 10µg Vit D per day during winter months. We get about 90% of our vitamin D from a reaction that takes place when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but in the winter months we do not have enough sun for this to occur. Even on a sunny day, the angle of the sun, in relation to the earth’s surface, means that we cannot make vitamin D. The other 10% we get from our food, so you can increase your levels slightly by topping up your intake of oily fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Many foods are also fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, bread and breakfast cereals.

Sleep

Wellbeing plays a huge role in optimising immunity, and a major element of wellbeing is sleep. The stress of our daily lives means we might experience prolonged periods of insomnia or poor-quality sleep, which can negatively impact on our immune function and make us less able to fend off bugs. There’s a bidirectional relationship, because an Immune response, like that caused by a viral infection, can affect our ability to sleep well too.

Researchers have found that when we sleeping at night, certain components of the immune system ramp up. For example, there is an increased production of cytokines associated with inflammation. This activity appears to be driven both by sleep and by circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour internal clock.

Get Outdoors

Not only do we get those important hits of vitamin D outside, safely, in summertime sunlight but we can also get in some stress-busting exercise which can really contribute to the effective functioning of your immune system, all year round. Exercise is a great way to keep your body in top condition and it can also help to reduce stress and support your body in fighting infection. Now, the great British weather at this time of year isn’t always conducive to getting outside, so physical activity at home is a great option and if you’re more likely to be spending time in the gym, just remember that basic hand hygiene is the most effective way of stopping bugs entering the body.

Exercise

Read more about how CBD can help with your immunity here

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