How to build a healthy immune system

The last six months have been rather extraordinary to say the least. Brexit got superseded by Corona and uncertainty and fear are currently everywhere with questions rife. Should I travel? Will my parents get ill? Should my kids go to school? Will my company survive?

Responding to fear

These are frightening questions that bombards us from news headlines daily which means we have to work that little bit harder to keep a healthy balance and hang on to some sort of perspective. As we are unable to control the outside world and the people in it, it comes down to our own reactions to these situations and what precautions we then may take. It becomes, as these things usually do, an inside job.

Mindset check

Let’s start with our mindset. When we panic and reach for the worst case scenario, we procure fear and knee jerk reactions which does us more harm than good. Stress takes an enormous amount of energy away from the immune system at a time when we really need it. Stress is a reaction that happens when we perceive we are under threat and all focus goes to oxygenate the blood, get our body ready for fight or flight. Our immune system is not deemed a priority during stress, nor is digestion or fertility, so we are much more receptive to infections and illness during stressful times. Not great.

A mindset is something we work on daily. In simple terms it is what you choose to fill your mind with repeatedly. So when it looks dark and scary ‘out there’ we tend to react quickly and frantically. Which is why it is important to look at what is actually true, the facts, instead of taking the speedy highway to catastrophe. We need to learn how to self soothe.

Using our imagination

There is nothing wrong with feeling scared or worried about what is happening – it is after all an evolutionary response to a threat. Yet we can begin to practice calmer thinking and breathing, creating a best possible scenario. Inside our brain we have a film screen (our imagination) which broadcasts whatever we tell it to. Most of us are watching repeat episodes of horror films (I will have no food, I’ll get fired from my job and the kids will starve) which then fills us with unhelpful hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. We get stressed.


Therefore, in these uncertain times, starting a daily meditative practice such as mindfulness, meditation or breath work could be very beneficial to keep anxiety at bay. Ten minutes per day is all it takes. By imagining staying peaceful and more relaxed, visualising a scenario where you felt different, calmer and more resilient. How much nicer it would feel. This by the way is not woo woo – it is science and it is hugely important we get this stuff as anxiety is a world epidemic.

Natural immunity boosters


As it is likely that we’ll be staying home more, travelling less and not having to commute as much, we could have more time to get our health back on track. Sleep is a biggie – when we sleep we go through different cycles which helps us with memory processing, healing, anti ageing and rejuvenation. Without this we feel spiky, irritable, less cognitively able and low in mood. We also don’t produce the necessary components to build a healthy immune system. Alcohol, stress, worry, caffeine and phone use are the biggest culprits.

Veggies & Fruit

Food is another biggie. Avoiding processed food, too much alcohol (interrupted sleep and low mood) and caffeine, sugar and refined carbs can do a whole lot to boost our immune system. Loads of fresh fruit and vegetables to make salads, roasted in the oven, soups or raw is a cheap and marvellous way of ensuring we get all the vitamins and minerals we need to stay strong, to stay resilient. Try a box service like Riverford and you get it delivered to your front door too.

Pulses, beans, rice, herbs

Be inventive and use dried foods like lentils, beans, brown rice or quinoa to your menu as well as veggies. Eating less meat is good for the planet so in addition you get to feel good about changing your eating habits and filling yourself up with amazing nutrients. Garlic, ginger, onions and chillies are wonderful anti-viral and anti-bacterial tools as are herbs. Use them liberally. Be curious and go online to find gorgeous recipes from sites like Deliciously Ella, The Body Coach or Greenswede.

Last but not least, as a former health coach, I advocate drinking your veggies as well as eating them. Make delicious juices (no fibre) and smoothies (fibre) at home with plenty of kick from ginger and lemon, turmeric and cayenne pepper. It is an excellent way of using veg that is on the turn as well as giving your immune system a good boost.

At the end of the day it is about looking after yourself, body and mind. Use the current situation to remind yourself that you do have control of what you feel and how you think. And why not share some of your insights to others who may be struggling by cooking together, meditating together and practicing hopeful conversations to combat anxiety and doomsday scenarios.

Wishing you great mental and physical health,


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