Winter is the time to be consistent with daily immunity rituals to keep coughs and colds at bay. Stephanie Drax is the founder of Leapfrog Remedies, the UK’s first Lactoferrin brand. Lactoferrin is a powerful yet natural antiviral protein that our body synthesises daily and is the key component of mother’s milk. The Lactoferrin in Leapfrog IMMUNE comes from grass fed cow’s milk and is blended into delicious chewable tablets together with Zinc and Vitamin C – take daily for prevention or at the first sign of a sniffle and see how differently your colds play out this season. Stephanie has shared with us her non-negotiable health hacks to boost your immune system and keep you fighting fit this winter.
We need 10-15 minutes per day of direct sunlight to allow our skin to synthesise the sun’s UVB rays from cholesterol into the Vitamin D hormone. An immunity powerhouse with anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects, Vitamin D can enhance the function of important immune cells called T cells and macrophages. A metanalysis published in the British Medical Journal reviewed 25 randomised trials and showed that – pre-Covid – daily supplementation reduced acute chest infections and inflammatory markers improved. During the British winter adults need to supplement with up to 4000 IU per day, while children need 400 IU.
Immunity and quality sleep are bedfellows. In one study, 153 men and women were infected with rhinovirus and monitored for symptoms of a cold. Those sleeping less than 7 hours were 2.94 times more likely to develop a cold than those sleeping more. Melatonin – a hormone produced as darkness falls to aid our transition into sleep – is an anti-inflammatory medication and a great tool to have in the body when fighting infection. Late night lights and screen time is wreaking havoc on our natural circadian rhythm. It also makes evolutionary sense that chronic sleep deprivation is detrimental to the immune system: acute sleep loss when there’s a clear and present danger helps to mobilize the system, but if it extends over time, then the same system eventually starts failing. Remember the hours before midnight are key, so dim the lights in the evening and be ready to hit the hay at 10pm for sleep’s maximum benefits. Perhaps consider taking a supplement with natural actives to help bring on sleep, such as Leapfrog SNOOZE – named “my favourite sleep aid” by Dr Max Pemberton in his column in the Daily Mail.
In terms of prevention, getting outside each day gives your immune system more of a fighting chance. The more green you see, the better it is for your overall health and lifespan according to a metanalysis published in The Lancet in 2019. Getting air outside for 20 minutes per day is key, but ventilation at home is also an important mitigation strategy for Covid. One of the reasons flu has always spiked in winter, is because we congregate indoors for warmth and keep our doors and windows closed to conserve heat and reduce heating bills. An open window will help lower the spread of the virus to family or housemates. The fresh air turnover will dilute the virus concentration that’s shed from those who are infected, and a lower dose of initial infection can ultimately mean a milder version of the disease. Short bursts of 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day – or leaving the window ajar all day – has the potential to reduce the risk of infection from particles by over 70%.
A 30-second cold shower can kick-start your immune system. A study has shown that those who had a 30-90 second burst of cold water during their shower reported fewer sick days that those who took warm showers. Cold water – anything below 21 degrees C – helps to boost your white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to the changing conditions. These blood cells are your fighters, that help protect your body against diseases. So, a good immunity tip is to have a warm shower and finish with cold – it will accelerate your functions and, over time, your body will become better at activating its defences. The activation of the stress system in the short term is very good at keeping us healthy. The practice of cold showers cause the release of adrenaline, which then creates an ability to resist infection of different bacteria, viruses and fungal infections.
Did you know that if you don’t floss your teeth, it’s like eating off a 40% dirty plate? We like our teeth – and our plates – to be clean. But brushing your teeth only reaches around 60% of each tooth, leaving 40% ‘dirty’. That means the 6 million hungry bacteria that live in your mouth have a buffet between your teeth to thrive on. Bacteria particularly like feasting on carbohydrates like pasta, bread, cereal or sweet treats. Then they reproduce, build up plaque to thrive on and can drop acid onto gums and teeth causing bleeding and infection. If your body is trying to fight bacterial infection in your mouth, then your immune system is compromised (and there have been scientific studies that link gum disease to Alzheimer’s later in life). So, to give your immune system the healing resources it needs to fight other infections in the body, keep your teeth clean. Consistent flossing and brushing (in that order) create a food and housing shortage for bacteria in your mouth, so your immune system is primed and ready to fight other battles.
Good nutrition is critical to a strong immune system and is foundational in the fight against infection. The roll call of essential vitamins and minerals? Vitamin C (oranges, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, red peppers) for its antibodies that help stave off bacteria and viruses; Vitamin D (oily fish, mushrooms, red meat, egg yolks); Vitamin A (sweet potatoes, spinach, apricots, carrots) which helps to regulate the immune system; Vitamin E (nuts and seeds and greens) which fights cell damage; and Zinc (shellfish, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds) which boosts the metabolism and aids in wound healing.
Dry Body Brushing
One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin, so if you’re prepared to get out of bed 5 minutes earlier you could be giving your immune system a helping hand. Do this daily with a natural bristle brush before your shower. Brush in ten firm upward strokes to the heart on each section of skin, starting with the feet, and always brush to the centre of the body. This action will unclog pores, excrete toxins and stimulate the lymphatic system. Bacteria, toxins and waste from our blood filter through the lymph nodes and are cleaned, but sometimes the process can be sluggish. As many of the lymph vessels run below the skin, brushing can help the body with its detoxification process. So, when we brush our skin, we’re directly assisting in removing pathogens and strengthening our immune system.
Lactoferrin is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory protein that your body makes daily, working in your eyes, nose, mouth & certain white blood cells to protect you against germs. But when we’re stressed, tired, run-down, not eating properly or simply ageing, our innate lactoferrin may be depleted faster than it’s restored. This can leave us vulnerable to infection. Supplementing with Lactoferrin works in synch with your immune system because your body recognises it. Lactoferrin is also a key component of mother’s milk that gives a baby’s its immunity. Lactoferrin extracted from cow’s milk is biologically similar and is found in supplements like Leapfrog IMMUNE, a chewable tablet of pure Lactoferrin, Zinc and Vitamin C. Formulated as a citrus-flavoured chewable tablet, the effects begin in the mouth and bypass the harsh gastric juices. No water needed, and no big pills to swallow. Leapfrog IMMUNE is suitable for both children and adults so that you can stop the cycle of endless colds in the house this winter!