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From very young children upwards, people seem to be getting more regular infections nowadays, and often they linger for much too long – and then come back!

We are constantly exposed to bugs and viruses that can trigger infections, but your immune system should be strong enough on a day-to-day basis to fight off most of them.

Regular infections are a sign that your immune system is weakened.  Other signs include cold sores, swollen lymph glands, respiratory infections or infections “going to the chest”, inflammation, slow wound healing, eczema, asthma and regular mucus congestion.  A weak immune system needs to be tackled because in the long run it can expose us to more serious health problems.

The three most common influences on the immune system that I regularly see are stress (see separate briefing on stress), poor diet and poor digestion.
A large proportion of the cells of the immune system are held in the digestive tract.  So if a client presents with any of the above symptoms plus signs of poor digestion (such as loose bowels, wind, food reactions or allergic reactions), I will usually suggest work to restore their digestion to normal functioning, often looking at bacterial balance and the state of the gut wall.

Most of us know that we need to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day – not as hard as we think!  But there are a wide range of other foods that may boost immunity as well as many eating habits that have the opposite effect and can undo all the good work of the fruit and veg.! 

Regular intake of all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats that make our immune system work is essential, so a detailed look at possible nutrient deficiency or malabsorption can also be very helpful.

Low immunity can make us miserable, crotchety, tired and lacking in get-up-and-go.  It can also reduce our performance (and attendance!) at work and our ability to enjoy a good social life.  Yet in so many cases a professional nutrition consultation can put your immune system back on the right track.

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Sally Whitman of Blackberry Nutrition experienced nutrition consultant and nutritional therapist with a very busy clinic in Cheltenham, near Gloucester, Gloucestershire