Thanks to the rapid vaccine rollout, over 80% of us in the UK have been double jabbed and most of us are feeling relatively optimistic for the future. But sadly, the pandemic isn’t over yet and it is looking like we have another tough winter ahead of us. Some of the population are eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but it doesn’t apply to everyone. Regardless, what extra steps can we, and should we, be taking to ensure the health of ourselves and our families?
Immunity is a hot topic in the 21st century, and even more so now we are faced with this global pandemic. We gain natural immunity our whole lives by being surrounded by bacteria and other microorganisms that we build a resistance to gradually. This process happens in our immune system, made up of a range of components that work to protect us from getting ill (hyperlink). It works with the help of white blood cells, which detect these foreign organisms that could cause harm when they enter our systems. Certain types of white blood cells are then triggered to produce antibodies that are specific to the invader, and these will work to try and destroy them before they make us too sick.
But what about when it comes to a specific pathogen, such as COVID-19?
Over the last 18 months, you’ve probably heard plenty of discussion about ‘herd immunity’, which is the concept where enough of the population are immune, in one way or another, to the virus which makes the spread more unlikely, and thus there is a decline and hopeful end to the pandemic .
COVID-19 is still a relatively new virus, so much of what we know is uncertain and subject to change as the virus mutates. It is thought that you can develop a natural immunity to COVID-19 after contracting the virus, as your body has produced the antibodies necessary to fight it. However, this immunity is thought only to last around eight months . This means that someone who caught coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic would still have been susceptible to catching it again whilst still in the height of the pandemic, so natural immunity cannot be relied on.
The COVID-19 Vaccine
The problems with relying on natural immunity are exactly why scientists began urgently working on a vaccine that aimed to provide us with immunity to COVID-19 without having to catch the virus, providing longer lasting protection, and reducing the risk to life that those in vulnerable groups face. A range of successful vaccines have been tested and are now available to us, including Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca.
Overall, the vaccines have been a huge success, reducing viral transmission  and preventing symptoms of COVID-19 by up to 95%  in clinical trials. But sadly, no vaccine is perfect and cannot entirely prevent the spread of the virus, and thus, deaths from occurring. Winter is already a time when our immune systems are under pressure to keep us healthy, therefore we should all be taking steps to ensure that the system is as strong as it can be to give ourselves as much protection as possible.
What can I do to boost my immune system?
There are several relatively small improvements you can make in your daily life that will help to boost your immune system and can be so easy that you will be able to implement them across your whole family.
Getting 30-60 minutes of exercise on a regular basis improves the circulation of white blood cells that can more effectively locate viruses and bacteria that could make you sick . Also, ensuring that you get enough sleep provides your body with the necessary time to produce cytokines, a peptide that helps the body to fight off infections . Stress can have a huge effect on our immune systems as it causes the release of corticosteroid, a hormone that suppresses our ability to fight unwanted invaders, making us more susceptible to infection . You can read more about these simple changes here.
We can also impact our immune systems in a positive way by thinking carefully about what we are eating and drinking, too.
Consuming Immunity Support
Water makes up a huge proportion of our entire body system, and it is vital for transporting the nutrients absorbed by our body to the organs that need it. Without enough water, this process cannot be completed efficiently, and our essential systems may not function at full capacity . Water is also used by our bodies to flush out toxins that are present, preventing them from building up which could negatively impact our immune systems .
Ensuring that we get all the necessary vitamins and minerals that our body needs to thrive is essential for keeping us healthy, which in turn maintains a strong immune system. Making more of an effort to increase our intake of fruits and vegetables that provide us with an excellent source of nutrition and keeping our systems functioning optimally. These include zinc and vitamin C, which are vital for maintaining a healthy immune system.
There is also some evidence to suggest that probiotics may aid our bodies in the maturation of vital immune cells through the gastrointestinal tract, by activating certain immune mechanisms. They can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that could make us sick . Ashwagandha, a potent herb, can also be useful in supporting immunity due to its role as an adaptogen, helping to reduce cortisol levels. However, it has also been found to encourage anti-inflammatory processes and increase cell-mediated immunity, that is, strengthening our bodies’ defences against disease .
When time and convenience constraints mean that we are less able to carefully monitor our diet and ensure that we are getting the full spectrum of necessary vitamins and minerals, we can turn to supplements that can provide a helping hand in boosting immunity. Our SimplyGREEN Organic Immunity Goals supplement features vitamin C and zinc, proven to contribute to the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and our SimplyGREEN Pro Brain Health Goals contains a vitamin-B complex which can support the normal functioning of our brains and Ashwagandha to reduce stress.