The top five tips for boosting your immune system

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  • As the pandemic puts our lives on hold, staying healthy has never been so important. Naturopath and best-selling author Elizabeth Peyton-Jones shares the simple lifestyle changes that'll make all the difference

    Facing the greatest challenge of our generation is no mean feat.

    As a naturopath and Master Herbalist, I have spent a good amount of time teaching, talking, writing and consulting people to look at themselves in a way that helps them understand their bodies, why they ache and feel pain. What it means. When we give our body what it needs it will repair and fight. It works for you and is your friend, you just need to ‘listen’ to its voice, learn its language hear its pain and respond and then you become the master of your ailments.

    The immune system is your most important system and something you are totally in control of. You can either make it robust and strong, keep an eye on it and nurture it, or you can draw on it like a bank account and run it down, until the day when you need its power, it will have none left to give.

    The immune system involves your lymph which is like a drain it filters lymph fluid containing antibodies and lymphocytes (good) and bacteria (bad), so skin brushing and saunas are good. Bone marrow is what makes your white blood cells (they help fight virus), hence being told to drink chicken or bone broth to recuperate. 70% of your immune system is in your colon because of the good bacteria there, so always ensure that you have a good pro-biotic handy. Your mental state, stress levels, adrenal levels etc are paramount to how well your body can fight, stress undermines all of the above. So do not underestimate your immune ‘army’.

    Just as with an army your body needs to sleep well, eat well, exercise well and have a strong mental state.

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    So here are five tips for you:

    Stock up on anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is the thing you see when the immune system is active. If you break an arm and your arm swells, that swelling is the immune response, if you cut your hand, it goes red and slightly swells, that’s the immune system responding, when you come into contact with pollen and you have created an antibody to it, your immune system responds. The problem arises when the inflammatory response does not switch off. It stays inflamed. This activates the immune cells which circulate in the bloodstream causing a series of molecular and cellular changes, which take a heavy toll on the body, this can lead to allergies, loss of skin quality and other signs such as dry skin, headaches, stiff and painful joints, swelling and bloating. Check out EPJhealth for more information on the most anti-inflammatory foods to eat.

    Drink at least 1 litre of water daily. Our bodies are like the ocean and like the ocean we function better when intercellular fluids are at a slightly alkaline state. We are 70% water and if we eat foods which are acidic, the body will rectify itself, but at the cost of drawing minerals from your bones. So not recommended. The bad news is that most of the foods we eat and love meat, wheat, diary, sugar, alcohol, coffee are very acidic, add to that stress, chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs etc the good news is that you can drink a litre of water a day with PH drops and greens in it and this will help enormously to your alkaline balance. Or you can try to drink juices like celery and cucumber juice, or eat a good plateful of greens each day to balance it.

    Don’t forget your five-a-day. Your antioxidants are your defenders, they actually sacrifice themselves in order to link up with a free radicals in your body, which are intent on doing you damage and will march them out of the body. So colourful fruits and vegetables are your friend. Hence the rainbow diet. Anyone who is a smoker or has emotional stress, is overweight, sits in the sun or is around cleaning/toxic products should think about the colour in their food to protect them.

    Look out for your gut. 90% of your mood is in your gut. Serotonin is the happy hormone manufactured in your gut. This is the second reason to eat well and ensure your digestion is everything it should be. Not only is your gut your immune defence, it keeps your mood up and steady, thereby supporting you and dampening down those thoughts which can lead down the road to despair.

    Tick off the vitamin hit list. The vitamins and minerals to ensure you have enough of in your diet are zinc, Vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, you will be happy to know that most of these are in colourful fruit and vegetables. The herbs you should have in your household to fight infection if you have it are thyme, oregano, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper and clove. These are all very powerful and you can have them in your food, as a tea or in a smoothie. Play around and have fun. Remember if you are using them therapeutically, they are not for taste, they are for recovery so it is better to make them strong. If you’re looking for to maintain a positive mood, regulate sleep and manage pain, then we also recommend the 5-htp food supplements – developed by leading holistic health practitioner Dr Nish Joshi.

    Need some inspiration for delicious immune-boosting meals? Check out for more tips and recipe ideas, including Elizabeth’s Aubergine Tian recipe below…

    Aubergine Tian recipe

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    EPJ Health


    • 2-3 fresh tomatoes, pureed with a pinch of sea salt
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    • 1 smallish aubergine, halved or quartered lengthwise, and sliced thinly and evenly


    • Preheat oven to 220°C. Pour the pureed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half of the chopped basil into a round baking dish. Stir in the chopped shallot and garlic.
    • Arrange the aubergine slices in a circular pattern, from the outer perimeter of the baking dish, fanning them out, like the petals of a flower.
    • Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and bake, covered with tin foil, for 40 minutes -1 hour (depending on how thick your vegetable slices are), until the aubergine slices are soft.

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