YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 8

Our immune system declines by about 2-3% per year from our 20s. AUTHOR LAUREN ATKINS Lauren Atkins is a Senior Oncology Dietitian, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and co-founder of her business OnCore Nutrition. She has ten years expertise in oncology and haematology through work at various specialist hospitals and her private practice in Melbourne. Lauren also has a free to access Nutrition Podcast - OnCore Nutrition Two Peas in a Podcast. Website: www.oncorenutrition.com FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 DIET AND LIFESTYLE TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM Seven sure-fire ways to naturally support your immunity, with dietitian Lauren Atkins. Our immune system declines by about 2-3% per year from our 20s, but fortunately a healthy diet and lifestyle can help lower this decline. Read on for OnCore Nutrition’s top seven tips to optimise your immune system. 1. Spice up your life Using herbs and spices in your cooking will boost your antioxidant and polyphenol intake to support immune function. These have antimicrobial properties and may assist with natural detoxification processes. Polyphenols can improve the immune response and may be protective against cancer and various other chronic diseases. } Warm up with dishes full of turmeric, chilli, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. We also know that getting 7-9 hours of sleep can boost the spread of T-cells, which fight infection in the body. } Take time out to reset with relaxation exercises like yoga and meditation. } Get into nature, walk the dog or with a friend, or take a bath. } Prioritise sleep, set a routine and make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. 3. Watch your sweet tooth Our immune systems need carbohydrates to function, but we need to be savvy about which ones we choose. Eating or drinking quick release and simple sugars can reduce the activity of certain white blood cells called neutrophils that protect us from unfriendly bacteria, and we don’t want that! The best energy foods are complex, slow release (low GI) carbohydrates like wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and legumes. Keep sweet drinks, cakes, biscuits and desserts for special occasions. } Eat plenty of fresh veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds each day. } Drink green or black tea. } Dark chocolate and extra virgin olive oil are delicious sources of antioxidants and polyphenols. 2. Stress less and sleep well We realise this is easier said than done when the world is in crisis mode but when we’re stressed, the brain produces more cortisol to prepare the body for emergency situations. In doing so, it depresses our immune system. 8 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE