Who wants to support their immune system naturally while they are pregnant which will also support their baby in the womb? Where do I sign up I hear you say!!
Pregnancy is obviously a time you don’t want to get bogged down with a cold or flu because you’re building a baby and well… ain’t nobody got time for that!
But did you know that your immune system may be lowered substantially when have a bun in the oven? This may lead to higher susceptibility to colds and flu’s.
Here are some ways that you can support your immune system through nutrition and lifestyle when pregnant to rid off any nasty bugs going around work, home, or just on icky doorknobs or the trolleys at supermarkets!
Favourite tip: prevention is always better than cure.
Meaning: Let’s support the immune system and not get sick in the first place.
Strengthening your body’s defences will help your baby’s too so it’s a win/win!
Eight Ways to Naturally Support Your Immune System
- Good Hygiene: Hygiene from the germs…. Washing hands, wiping down handles of trolleys and baskets at shopping centres etc.
- Vitamin C: Let’s be honest; vitamin C is Queen Bee of immune support in the body1. Some examples of vitamin C rich foods are: kiwifruit, oranges, capsicum, papaya, strawberries, guava, broccoli, pineapple.
- Probiotics: Research has shown that a large portion of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Good bacteria are the healthy bugs that live in your gut and help fight off infections. Bacteria and yeast that are useful for immune function are2: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces. Different strains are needed for different conditions, always consult with your health care practitioner to find the right probiotic for you.
- Garlic: Throughout history, we as humans have known and used the benefits of garlic for immune boosting and infections 3. Garlic has a wide range of applications, safe to eat in pregnancy and can be used in cooking or raw.
- Sleep Quality: Research shows that in certain sleep cycles you produce immune fighting cells4. This shows how important getting deep sleep is and why aiming for 8 hours is so important for immune function. Therefore, while pregnant, prioritise those 40 winks as much as you can!
- Sunshine & Vitamin D: Did you know in Australia 1 in 3 people are vitamin D deficient? Vitamin D is essential for the immune system to fight infection1. You can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight without sunscreen on (baring your chest and arms in the middle of the day for 5 minutes is ideal), oily fish and eggs.
- Zinc: Zinc is an essential nutrient for immune function1 and it’s also great for sperm health. Zinc is found in oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, beans and various nuts.
- Lower your stress: Stress not only affects our mental health, but it can also result in adverse physical responses. There are many meditation apps out there to help you stay calm and reduce anxiety.
Cortisol: Interesting to know
Have you ever caught a cold while on holiday? It may be your body taking the opportunity to slow down and repair. Cortisol is your stress hormone and when we take a break from continuous stress our cortisol levels drop. Our bodies are no longer on high alert so our immune system takes a holiday too.
Always consult with a health care practitioner before taking any supplements to find out what is right for you.
- Maggini, S., Maldonado, P., Cardim, P., Newball, C. and Sota Latino, E. (2017). Vitamins C, D and Zinc: Synergistic roles in immune function and infections. Vitamins & Minerals, 06(03).
- Yan, F. (2011) Probiotics and immune health. PubMed Central. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/
- Leyla Bayan, A. (2018). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
- Besedovsky, L. (2012) Sleep and immune function. [Online] PubMedCentral Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/