10 days to go
We are born with some level of immunity which our bodies cleverly build on throughout life. There are some genetic conditions which can impair the immune system as can certain acquired diseases and conditions.
For most of us our bodies recognise our own cells and tissues as friendly but sometimes this can go wrong and fail. When this happens it is known as auto-immune disease with the immune system attacking its own healthy cells. Conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are among the more common autoimmune conditions.
As we age, our immune system may become less robust. One line of thinking is that our gut may be less good at absorbing some of the micronutrients that we need to keep the immune system in tip top shape.
We can help ourselves by eating a balanced diet containing a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables to give us a breadth of vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy immune system and to keep those billions of friendly gut bacteria happy.
We also know that moderate regular exercise stimulates the immune system but that a bad night’s sleep or an excess of alcohol can depress it.
When we discussed supplements, see 15 days to go, we cited vitamin D as one that should be considered. Vitamin D is involved in many functions in the body including the immune system. We generate it when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, our ability to do so decreases with age.
There is evidence from multiple trials that Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infections and also that those with low Vitamin D levels are more susceptible to respiratory infection. As well as attention to dietary intake, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends a daily supplement of 400iu or 10mcg per day throughout the year.
The end goal is a bonus - it's the journey that changes us