As summer rolls around, we’re all focusing on getting out of lockdown to enjoy the most of warm days with friends and family. Not only are we hoping to look our best for all the picnics and gatherings and travel, but we’re also hoping to feel our best.
We’ve never been as health conscious as we are this year. The pandemic has taught us all that our health truly is our wealth and that it’s important to cultivate a healthy body and mind to make sure we are able to live our lives to the fullest.
Which is why it’s so important to start our health journey from the inside out. Our nutrition and food intake have a huge impact on our overall health. Our gut alone can impact everything from our digestive system to our immune system, so it’s essential to look after it.
Laura Dowling, AKA ‘The Fabulous Pharmacist’ says, "A lot of people don’t realise that the digestive system plays an important role in regulating the health of our immune system. By making a few small adjustments to your family’s daily routine, you can reap the rewards down the line.”
Laura shared her top tips for looking after our immune system through our diet this summer to ensure that we are as happy and healthy as we can be when we finally do get out and about with our loved ones!
Eat a wide range of plant-based foods
A plant-based diet can fend off harmful bacteria and help to protect your gut health. Try to include more fruit and vegetables in your daily meals. As the weather improves, it’s easier to add salads and other plant-based side dishes to your dinner table. The microbes in your gut feed off these kinds of foods and this helps to promote the growth of good bacteria.
Introduce more fibre to your meals
A fibre friendly diet has many health benefits. It can help your digestive system by feeding your gut bacteria and keeping it healthy. Nuts, wholegrains and vegetables are all great sources of dietary fibre that are easy to add to your favourite dishes. Make sure to spread your fibre intake throughout the day to avoid bloating too.
Include fermented foods in your diet
Fermented foods and beverages are becoming increasingly popular and are available in most supermarkets. Foods such as natural yoghurt, kefir, miso and some cheeses contain good bacteria which are excellent for gut health. Probiotic supplements are another great way to add good bacteria to your body. I regularly recommend ‘Alflorex Immune’ which is a probiotic that also includes the added benefit of Vitamin D.
Avoid processed foods
We’ve all reached for that extra slice of cake over the past few months but processed foods tend to have added sugar or salt and this can disrupt the balance of healthy gut bacteria which can make you feel sluggish and bloated. Try to replace some of the processed foods on your shopping list with a healthier whole food option instead.
Don’t overuse antibiotics
Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad bacteria and should only be used when absolutely necessary. Many infections, such as cold and flu, are viral and do not require antibiotics. Don’t underestimate your immune system’s strength in fighting these infections!
Make sure you get enough sleep
While it’s easier said than done, establishing a sleep routine that works for you is important. It benefits all body functions including gut health. Try to avoid too much screen time and stimulants like tea or coffee close to bedtime.
Laura is a mum of three and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of all things health-related in an accessible, relatable manner via her Instagram channel. Her primary topics are medicine, illness, natural therapies, nutrition, supplements, exercise, yoga and cooking amongst other things. With a degree from Trinity and almost 20 years’ experience under her belt, Laura aims to give her followers the tools to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle without resorting to short-term crazes or fads.
Whether talking about skin concerns, constipation, female incontinence or mental health, Laura aims to educate her followers and shine a light on topics that people can often shy away from.
One subject she is particularly vocal about and that we’ve been hearing a lot about in the news is the importance of Vitamin D in our diet. With links drawn between the vitamin and recovery from the effects of Covid-19 looking increasingly strong, it’s more important than ever to find ways to incorporate it, with health experts advising the public to kick-start their immune systems by adding vitamin D to their daily routine.
Laura says “It’s important to strengthen your immune system naturally as we approach the summer months. While spending time in the sun is one way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, this is not possible for everyone. Adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine can make a huge difference and help you stay fighting fit. I recommend Alflorex Immune to my customers which is a probiotic and vitamin D supplement in one.
Alflorex Immune, which was developed in Ireland, is the only food supplement to contain the unique PrecisionBiotics PB-VIR culture. This unique culture has been specially formulated with extra strength vitamin D to support the normal function of the immune system.
The PB-VIR culture in Alflorex Immune is a naturally occurring and safe bacterial strain, belonging to the same family of bacteria that is passed from mother to baby at birth. It was discovered by PrecisionBiotics and has been the focus of research since 2010.
Cork GP Dr. Philip Kieran says it’s important to kick your immune system into high gear ahead of the summer. He says “After 12 months of uncertainty, going out again will provoke a range of reactions, and that’s normal. Taking reasonable steps now to support your immune system is a good way to ensure you’re fit and healthy and able to enjoy meeting up with others again as much as possible”.
Dr. Kieran, who co-presented the TV series “You Should Really See a Doctor”, offers his tips for getting your immune system in top shape ahead of the summer months. He recommends eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, taking supplements and practicing hand hygiene, something that has become increasingly important this past year.
Alflorex Immune is available in many pharmacies throughout Ireland.