Ep. 12 - Why ‘Immune Boosting’ Labels are a Myth: 10 Tips to Support Your Immune Function This Autumn
One topic in particular that becomes popular during this time of the year is immunity, and more specifically ‘boosting’ our immune system to prevent us from getting ill over the winter period.
In this episode, Nicole explains why having an immune system that’s in overdrive is not something we want, as it can sometimes trigger autoimmune diseases and make flare ups and relapses worse. Instead, what we want is a balanced immune system. Tune into the full episode to hear Nicole’s top 10 tips for supporting your immune function during this season and for the long term!
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FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
What to keep in mind when it comes to Flu and Covid booster jabs
Why the term ‘immune boosting’ is a sales hack
Boosting energy and balancing immunity
The difference between having an under/over active immune system vs. a balanced one
Working with an expert to make sure you’re taking the correct supplements based on YOUR health
Nicole’s top 10 tips to help support your immune function
What happens when our Inflammatory response gets triggered
The impact that lifestyle elements can have on your immune system
The benefits of breathwork and falling into a parasympathetic state
How our bodies recover whilst we sleep
More than 70% of our immune system is in the gut
“There’s lots we can do to support and balance our immunity, but we definitely don’t want to be doing things that boost our immunity.”
Essential learnings from this episode…
Why ‘immune boosting’ labels are a myth and a sales hack we should be avoiding
The 10 things we can do to support our immune function for the long term
The importance of breathwork and focusing on our sleep for recovery
How small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference
Important links & mentions from this episode
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Hey there, I´m Nicole
LLB(Hons) DIPION MBANT CNHC mIFM mRSM
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Registered Nutritional Therapist BANT CNHC
Registered Nutritionist BANT
Podcast Host – The Goode Health Podcast
Media Contributor – Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Thrive Global
Tatler Approved Nutritionist
Founder of The Goode Health Clinic – WINNER Best Functional Medicine Clinic UK 2023
Nicole is one of the UK’s leading voices on immune health and optimal health, a specialist in autoimmune diseases, further specialised into thyroid, brain and fatigue conditions and optimising health for ambitious high achiever’s. Providing bespoke, personalised functional medicine programmes for clients worldwide.
Nicole has partnerships with worldwide global leaders in functional medicine including practitioner only supplement companies, testing laboratories (inc. from USA), to assess health, discover underlying imbalances and root causes of sub optimal health. In doing so Nicole works with clients on their own personal health history, root causes and genetics to achieve long lasting, effective results, providing optimal health status.
Please note: Transcript is automatically generated.
[00:00:00] Hi, welcome to the good health podcast. I’m your host, Nicole Goode, a registered nutritional therapy practitioner and functional medicine practitioner. Join me as we explore thyroid brain and fatigue conditions with positivity from Hashimotos multiple sclerosis chronic fatigue to adrenal dysfunction. I’ve got me covered with expert advice and tips to help you take action now and inspiring real patient stories from successful individuals who refuse to let their health hold them back. Start your journey to good health today. And don’t forget to come and join the conversation on Instagram at good underscore health. That’s G double O D or visit my website at Nicole Goode health.com To find out more. Welcome back to the good health podcast. So this is our first solo episode of the autumn after summer break and we’re going to jump into a very kind of seasonal hot topic today and that is your immune system. Because at this time of year we hear so much about immunity there’s a lots of ads flying around for certain things. There’s also we hear a lot about like the flu jab and now we hear a lot about COVID boosters, how to avoid colds and viruses through the winter. So there’s lots of this sort of going around. There’s lots of information out there. Some of it is really useful and really beneficial. Other parts of it are sort of highly promotional. So I really want to just kind of dig into a couple of these things today. In this episode. And we’re going to start by looking at the jobs. So we know that the three job is around and nowadays we also have the COVID booster and lots of people asked me whether or not this is something that they should have.
I really think the answer to this is it depends case by case and we need to look at each individual as to whether you want to have it or not. And if you are a healthy individual, you know that choice may be that you don’t want to have those things done. If you are immunocompromised, then the job might be beneficial. If you’ve got things like EBV or reactivated EBV high viral load these I work with a lot of people that have these issues, then you may want to consider whether the whether the vaccines are right for you. And then we have of course we have people with autoimmunity and I work a lot with people who have autoimmune diseases. And again, you really want to look at those individuals and decide whether or not it’s the right thing for you to have done. So my advice around the jobs is to speak to somebody like myself, speak to your GP read up but make sure you’re reading up on scientific sources, because there’s a lot of other stuff out there. as well. And we all know how easy it is to Dr. Google things. But I really think you know, take a lot of that advice. If you are a healthy individual then the decision is probably relatively simple. If you really are kind of immuno compromised, you’ve got those real difficulties, then again, that might be an easier decision for you to make but if you fall in this bracket in the middle, which is you know, people who have underlying autoimmune disease or autoimmunity that’s maybe not fully balanced, or you have something like Epstein Barr or a reactivated form of virus, high viral load, then that’s kind of that tricky middle area where we really need to have a discussion and decide whether or not it’s the right thing for you. And make sure that you’re making the right choice on that. So that’s the first thing and then the second thing that I would say around this topic is try to avoid all the promotions out there because there are so many promotions that go out around this time of year, ready for the winter. And a lot of them are around immune boosting. And I think this is a really important conversation to have, because immune boosting is basically a sales hack. It’s mostly used within the supplement world but maybe for other things as well other services and things like that. If you see something that says immune boosting as a general rule, I would say avoid that because that is a sales trick. We do not want to boost your immune system. So that’s really important having a immune system that is in overdrive. It’s definitely not something that we want. This is what leads to things like autoimmunity. So if we’ve got an immune system that is in overdrive, that can lead to autoimmune diseases, it can trigger autoimmune diseases. If you’ve got any of that underlying there, it’s going to make flare ups and relapses worse. So we definitely don’t want to be boosting our immune system. And this really is just a sales trick. If your immune system is well balanced and working effectively, you shouldn’t need to do things to boost that immune system. So it’s very much I always talk about boosting energy, that’s a different thing. But I always talk about boosting energy and balancing immunity and this really is what my method the Mito immune method is designed to do. And we have a four week nutrition plan to help you with this. So we’ll add the link in the show notes below if you if you want access to that. And this nutrition plan is really designed to help boost energy work on the mitochondria give you more of that fuel that you need through particularly through the winter because we do get more tired through the winter. We have the shorter days and things like that, but also to balance immunity to balance your immune system and this is the key. We want to support your mitochondria. And we’ll dig into that more in a future episode. And that’s for the energy and we want to balance your immune system. So an underactive immune system that’s when you’re going to be getting like catching everything you know, getting if the children are coming home from school and you’re picking everything up. You know, that’s not normal kids catch things because their immune system develops at a younger age and they are coming into contact with more things for the first time. If yours is well balanced, you really shouldn’t be picking everything up. You should be able to avoid things. And I’ve had clients who I’ve worked with where you know, now the husband or the wife, whichever way it might be, the other the other half catches everything off the children and the people that I’ve worked with the clients that I’ve worked with no longer do, and that’s really important. So an underactive immune system, you’re going to catch everything. We don’t want that. If we’ve got a balanced immune system, you shouldn’t really be picking things up. And if you’ve got an overactive or a boosted immune system, you’re at that risk of autoimmune diseases and things like that. So balance really is key. So my second kind of tip around the immune system and all the all the noise that we hear at this time of year is to support your immune system. That’s key, but to do that in a way that balances it and to avoid all of this kind of immune boosting hype that we hear at this time of year because a lot of it is promotional, and we really shouldn’t need to do too much to our immune systems if it’s already well balanced. So the key is going to be working to find any underlying causes, any root causes or underlying imbalances that are meaning that your immune system is not balanced in the first place. And then working on those and making sure that you’re just getting a really healthy diet, that you are getting the nutrients within that diet to support the immune system and we’re going to touch on this in a moment and also doing the other things a lifestyle things that help support your immune system. So there’s lots that we can do to support and balance immunity but we definitely don’t want to be doing things that boost immunity. Something else I would just add to this as well because I know a lot of you out there listening will have autoimmune diseases because I work with a lot of those types of people. So I’m sure there’s a lot of you listening who who do have those conditions. And that is that actually some of the things that you take even to balance immunity, so things that actually are really good for balancing the immune system. You actually they’re contraindicated in certain autoimmune diseases. So it’s really important before you just start taking tonnes of supplements at this time of year to support your immune function, that you work with somebody that really knows what they’re doing. I think a lot of people think that supplements are totally safe. And you know, they can just go and kind of pick them up over the counter and start taking things and by themselves all these supplements and they get to feel great. And it’s just not that simple supplements react with other supplements. Supplements also react with drugs for any medication, and supplements also interact with health conditions. So some supplements that are really good for your immune system really good for balancing that out that we would give to the average person may be contraindicated if you’ve got certain autoimmune diseases. So particularly if you’ve got anything underlying don’t just rush into taking supplements without speaking to somebody that really does know what they’re doing. So that would be my other thing to say around a lot of this kind of immune boosting talk that we hear at this time of year. And then the third thing I kind of wanted to dig into a little bit today is giving you some of these top tips to help with your immune functions. So things that you can get into the diet, lifestyle, things that you can do, and we’re just going to touch on a few of those now. So here’s my top 10 tips to help support your immune function. So the first one is vitamin D. So vitamin D benefits the immune system in many different ways. It inhibits B cell proliferation, it can suppress T cell proliferation it can move people from th one dominance to th two and certain autoimmune conditions like MS for example, or actually th one dominance this can be really helpful in these conditions. But the main thing to know is that Vitamin D has a huge impact on our immune function. And the science shows that there are some conditions that are actually far more prevalent in areas where vitamin D levels are low. And if like me you live in the UK, then vitamin D levels are pretty much low or Yeah, but especially at this time of year. So vitamin D is the one that we’re going to discuss here that is actually really difficult to get from foods and you can get it from foods like eggs and mushrooms. And you can actually help that process by if you leave your mushrooms in the sun for example that will increase the load of vitamin D in them but it’s still going to be really difficult to get enough vitamin D just from food alone and that’s why we often recommend vitamin D as a supplement. But vitamin D really important for your immune function. Number two would be vitamin C. So vitamin C plays a really big role in the immune system as well as that sort of stimulating activity of white blood cells. If you come into contact with a virus it’s also an antioxidant which neutralises free radicals which will damage your cells if you’ve got too many of them. So we really need these antioxidants in the body. And you can get vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, your cruciferous veg so things like broccoli, cabbage sprouts, cauliflower, and then fruits like cherries, plums and strawberries. So it’s very easy to get enough of that in the diet. Number three would be zinc. So I think is another nutrient that is really beneficial to your immune system. But you should again be able to get enough through a balanced diet mostly through foods. So zinc comes a lot from animal products. So things like chicken, red meat, oysters, seafood, but you can also get it from plant foods. So if you don’t eat the meat or the animal products, then you can get moderate levels of zinc from things like nuts and seeds, whole grains, so things like quinoa, rice and oats.
Eggs also contains something and so do lagun. So things like your chickpeas, your beans and lentils. So if you’re eating plenty of those sorts of foods in your diet, you should be able to get nothing in the diet as well. Number four would be adequate protein. So protein is actually made up of amino acids that are the essential building blocks that we need. And the main function is to build and repair and we often talk about protein when we’re looking at things like exercise and your muscles and recovery, but it’s also has a really important role in immune function so it supports a balanced immune system. It promotes synthesis of glutathione. That’s our master antioxidant. And it also aids repair and recovery. So getting enough protein in your diet is also going to be really important for immune health. Tip number five would be selenium so selenium is another nutrient that is really beneficial in fighting infections, and balancing the body’s immune system and some studies have actually shown that selenium may also be beneficial in actually preventing some infections as well. And there’s a really easy simple way to get enough selenium in the diet and that is just to Brazil nuts a day. It’s really two of these and you don’t want too many don’t be eating tonnes them because we don’t want everything in moderation. We don’t want too much selenium in the diet. But just to Brazil nuts a day is going to give you adequate Selenium to help support your immune system. Tip number six would be iron. So iron is actually one of the most common nutritional deficiencies that we come across. And getting a blood test to check your iron can be hugely beneficial. I am actually helps you so it helps you get your oxygen from your lungs all around your body so it helps transport that oxygen and we really need oxygen for everything. But testing your iron levels is important because we don’t want to just guess and supplement without knowing your levels is really important with iron thoroughly supplement if you are deficient in terms of immunity I am can be used by infectious agents and things like bacteria if they get into your body to increase that own growth. So when our inflammatory response is triggered when we come into contact with bacteria or viruses in the body, the body will actually not absorb as much iron from food to prevent its use by these infectious agents to grow. So but what that can mean is that actually if you’ve got a chronic infection or your post infection, you may actually be low in iron because your body may not have been taking up enough iron from your diet. Now you can get enough iron from your diet. iron rich foods are predominantly meat so this is what we call heme iron and it’s much more bioavailable, but there are some non heme forms as well such as beans and tofu. And while they aren’t as readily absorbed as the heme iron, so that’s the stuff from the sort of the meat the animal protein, you can actually improve absorption of iron by consuming it with vitamin C rich foods. So that’s a really good tip if you don’t eat the animal products if you are vegetarian or vegan and you’re trying to get enough iron in the diet. If you eat those iron rich foods, eat them with vitamin C rich foods, it’s really going to help with that absorption and those vegetarian sources are less easily absorbed. The number seven we’re moving on to some lifestyle elements and I’m going to kind of do two together here. But the next two are nature and walking. So nature is not only good for stress relief, but it also gets you out into cleaner air. And the lungs are a really important part of the immune system. They help to fight infection by removing pollutants and they help to balance inflammation and pollution that we breathe in can actually accumulate in the lungs and weaken our immune defences. So getting outside into nature and cleaner air can be really beneficial. And mix this with walking. And it’s not only going to get you outside in that clean around preferably that’s where we want you to do the walking, but it’s also going to give you exercise which research has shown can really help move immune cells around your body and we know that exercise in general keeps you really healthy. The number eight is breath work and breath work can really help to reduce stress and improve immune function. And it’s got really wide ranging benefits, lots of studies have now been done on this. But it can be things with strengthening the lungs, relieving stress to moving you into a more parasympathetic state of relaxation, all of which benefits immune function. Number nine is sleep. So adequate sleep is really important as during sleep, your immune system releases cytokines which are immune protective. And also in those who don’t get enough sleep. It’s been found that antibodies which fight infection are actually reduced in those people. So sleep is really important for our immune function. And lastly number 10 is soil health. So soil health actually supports the nutrient content that is found in our foods and the healthier the soil, the better the quality of our food. And studies have shown that if we’re exposed to this healthier soil, and foods that are grown in this healthier soil, our own microbiome is actually more diverse and therefore healthier and better for our immune function. Because remember, more than 70 Maybe 80% of our immune system is in the gut. So this really promotes the benefits of an organic diet and free from things like your pesticides and your GMOs. So they are my 10 Top Tips for balancing an immune system, especially at this time of year. But if you want to dig in a little bit more, we have got our energy and immune balancing nutrition plan which I will link below in the show notes. It’s full weeks. It’s got all the meal plans, all the recipes, all the shopping lists, so making it really easy for you to implement these tips into your day to day life. So I hope you found that really beneficial. And I think it’s really important to have this conversation around immunity at this time of year just because it is such a hot topic at this time of year. And there’s a lot of things out there that, you know, like we said can be kind of promotional and misread and maybe not always the best advice. So I hope you found this really helpful on this episode. And I will see you next week with another fantastic guest. 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