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How to boost our immune system

Rosemary Conley CBE, Editor-in-Chief of FirstPort’s Life & Style magazine, is working on a new initiative to help people stay fit and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak. In this blog Rosemary shares some highlights from her new e-book The 28 Day Immunity Plan and her top five tips on how to boost our immune systems.

We all want to stay safe in these challenging times and it’s not too late to make a real difference to our immune system and increase our chances of surviving the potentially fatal COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst we are only too aware that this terrible virus can hit anyone at any age, we are continually reminded that those most at risk from Coronavirus are the elderly, those suffering from asthma, heart disease, diabetes or who have compromised immune systems. Statistics immerging from many who sadly have lost their battle with COVID-19, indicate that being overweight significantly increases a patient’s vulnerability too.

But there is good news. By taking some simple steps to change our everyday lifestyle – the way we eat, drink and exercise – we can dramatically improve our immune system and our chances of living a longer, fitter and healthier life.

The most effective and efficient way to boost our immunity is to eat foods that help to maximise the health of our white blood cells. These are the cells that fight infections and they are produced in our bone marrow. The white-blood-cell-boosting foods include eating plenty of protein, some good quality carbohydrate, a small amount of unsaturated fats and plenty of fruit and vegetables. In addition, we need to exercise every day.


Other immunity-boosting foods include almonds, blueberries, garlic, green tea, green vegetables and dark green salad leaves, kale, mushrooms, raspberries, live yogurt (check on the carton).


Antioxidants are the good guys and free-radicals are the bad guys. Antioxidants protect our cells whilst free-radicals are thought to play a role in causing heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help to repair damaged cells in the body.

Fruit and vegetables are full of infection-fighting Vitamin C, and those that are brightly coloured are high in antioxidants – including beetroot, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, oranges, peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, but also in non-brightly coloured foods such as ginger, garlic and onions. They also include vital fibre which is crucial to our achieving a healthy gut.


Eating foods with high fibre content not only help us stay healthy it also helps us to control our weight. Foods high in fibre help to keep us feeling fuller for longer and help our gut, our digestion and our bowels to work more efficiently which, in turn, enhances our general health and wellbeing.


Whilst we try our best to boost our immune system, these are some of the things that work against us and that the body has to fight against for us to stay healthy. Here they are:

Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, saturated fats such as butter and margarine, high-sugar products, cakes and biscuits, pastries and pies, meat products (eg. salami, pâté, scotch eggs, sausage rolls), junk food and some take-aways, all deep-fried food.


As well as eating healthily, and maybe losing a few unwanted lbs/kilos, exercise plays a crucial role in fighting off infection and disease.  But it doesn’t happen on its own.  We need to invest effort if we are going to build and maintain a strong immune system. Exercise is like a super-saver investment account that pays double dividends. It strengthens our heart and lungs, boosts our immune system and burns calories. But there’s more.

A Secret Army!

Most of us understand that our heart provides a very efficient circulatory system which pumps blood around our body.  We are less aware of our lymphatic system. This is a clever process where our lymphatic system provides a vital role for our immune system. It works by draining excess fluid from bodily tissues and carrying immunity-boosting white blood cells around the body to fight infection. But there is a problem.  The lymphatic system does not have a pump and this is where exercise plays such an important role. The movement of your muscles through exercise automatically creates a pump to spread those white blood cells that are so vital in protecting us from infection – like a secret army that’s fighting for us.  This fact alone should highly motivate us to exercise regularly at any age but particularly as we get older. FirstPort has uploaded some of my ‘exercise-at-home’ videos onto their YouTube page and if you can do these regularly, they will greatly benefit your well-being

Five top tips:

  1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
  2. Eat three meals a day and avoid snacking between meals
  3. Stop smoking completely
  4. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and foods high in fibre
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation

This is an extract from The 28 Day Immunity Plan (Penguin) by Rosemary Conley with Mary Morris and is available now as an eBook from Amazon for just £2.99. The authors’ royalties will be donated to NHS Charities Together (Charity No 1186569). The book comprises a 28 Day eating plan, over 30 recipes, a four-week progressive exercise plan and much more. Suitable for meat-eaters and vegans.

About the author:

Rosemary Conley CBE is the editor of FirstPort’s Life & Style magazine – which is circulated in print and as an online edition to over 1,000 retirement developments in the UK. She is best known for her multi-million selling diet books and fitness DVDs and as a TV health and fitness presenter, appearing for seven years on ITV’s This Morning with Richard & Judy.

Rosemary Conley was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire in 1999 and in 2001 was the first woman to be given the Freedom of the City of Leicester. In 2004, she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours for ‘services to the fitness and dieting industries’. In 2002, Rosemary appeared on This is Your Life and in 2012 on Dancing on Ice.

The views expressed in this blog reflect the author’s opinion and are not necessarily the views of the publisher. The publisher accepts no liability for any loss or damage of any kind caused by errors and is not responsible for the accuracy of claims made by the author.