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Immunity Q&A with London Clinic of Nutrition

What are the best ways to boost the immune system?

For the immune system to function optimally it requires many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, adequate sleep, relaxation and regular exercise. Yet it’s important to note that we cannot ‘boost’ the immune system, instead we can support it with healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.

In terms of nutritional support, opting for fresh vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, and ensuring you eat a wide range of colours and varieties to provide the body with a range of different nutrients is a good place to start. 

An important lifestyle habit to cultivate is incorporating physical activity into your daily and weekly regimen. Try and exercise outside when possible to get some fresh air and sunshine and I personally enjoy going to yoga classes at my local studio

What are your home remedies to boost your immune system?

When I’m feeling a bit run down I make myself a fiery lemon and ginger shot which supports inflammation and gives a boost of antioxidants. My recipe includes 10 lemons, 4 inches of ginger, 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and a pinch of cracked black pepper.

What are the best vitamins for the immune system?

Vitamin D is one of the most powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. The main source of vitamin D is through sunlight with very small amounts found in foods, therefore, daily supplementation offers the best protection, especially during the autumn and winter months or where sunlight is low. 

Vitamin A is also an important one for supporting immune function by several mechanisms. Supplementation can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections, particularly with regard to respiratory infections. 

Not to forget here is one of the most powerful antioxidants –vitamin C. Low levels of vitamin C are associated with a weakened immune system and increased risk of developing chronic disease. Vitamin C has strong anti-viral properties as well, which makes it a great go-to supplement during winter.

What are the best herbs for the immune system?

Some of the best, and easily accessible, herbs to include in your diet to support immunity would be garlic, turmeric and ginger. Garlic acts as a natural antibacterial and antiviral agent and where possible, having it raw will ensure the beneficial properties are most powerful. Turmeric and ginger both have powerful natural anti-inflammatory properties and can easily be added to recipes.

What’s the best diet for the immune system?

Include organic vegetables and fruits, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and teff, probiotic foods - to help to maintain levels of friendly bacteria in the gut  - and make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. 

But, it's worth noting that a personalised approach to diet is key and seeing a trained nutritionist is always recommended if you are struggling with immunity.

How does the immune system work?

The immune system functions as our main defence system to fight off infections that threaten our body. 

We are continually exposed to viruses, bacteria and fungi that are inhaled, swallowed, or come into contact with our skin. The immune system aims to generate a response to these potential threats, develops antibodies and  activates T cells to fight off these organisms. 

If the immune system is overwhelmed or compromised, then disease may manifest. 

What weakens the immune system?

Unhealthy dietary and lifestyle choices can weaken the immune system. Some examples would be smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, not getting enough sleep, eating high fat foods and not spending enough time outside (thus not receiving enough vitamin D). 

Stress and emotional disturbance can also affect the immune system so it’s important to take care of your mental health. I’m a fan of using meditation and mindfulness practices to help this. 

What triggers autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune diseases develop when the immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells thinking of them as a threat. 

People with autoimmune diseases often have a genetic predisposition, which can be triggered by environmental influences such as stress and coming into contact with certain viruses. 

What's the best diet for autoimmune disease?

I always take a personalised approach - what works for one person may not work for another. You have to take into account a person’s health status, body and lifestyle. 

At the Clinic we have a number of practitioners who specialise in autoimmunity who can create a bespoke diet and herbal protocol, so please give us a call on 020 3332 0030 to learn more or visit londonclinicofnutrition.co.uk

Based on most clinical research to date, the AIP (Autoimmune Diet Plan) is proving to be helpful in managing autoimmunity. This includes most vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and protein rich foods. Things to avoid would be dairy, grains and nightshade vegetables.

Please note that each case is very unique and a personalised approach is required in order to reach optimal health.

Tell us about yourself.

I’ve always been a keen cook and developed an early interest in food nutrition, energetic medicine and mind/body medicine. I studied naturopathy, nutrition, herbal medicine, and functional medicine for five years and was one of the few fully certified functional medicine practitioners in the UK for some time. 

I set up the London Clinic of Nutrition ten years ago and collectively we have now treated over 15,000 patients, helping them to regain their health from a myriad of health conditions. 

Based in Marylebone, we offer a range of different services including nutrition consults, IV nutrient therapy, health and nutrition testing and more recently, we have set up a CPD education platform for practitioners and started offering corporate wellness programmes. 

Our aim is to always find the root cause of clients’ symptoms using a personalised approach, and to empower them to make long term, sustainable changes for better health.

What inspired you to go into nutrition and start your practice?

I was seeing many clients and starting to get inundated with new clients. I was becoming very busy, so in order to not become burnt out I set up the practice with another practitioner - the rest is history! The future is looking bright for the Clinic and we are now a team of 25 including practitioners and staff. 

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