The Urban Kitchen Nutritionist, Toral Shah, shares top tips to support your immune system as UK restrictions ease

Despite the recent ‘freedom day’ that saw virtually all Covid-19 restrictions removed, not all Brits are celebrating a complete return to normality. After 16 months of different lockdowns, a new survey* commissioned on behalf of Actimel reveals some Brits are nervous to return to their pre-pandemic ways when it comes to social occasions, travelling abroad and public transport.

It’s no wonder the thought of being in crowds fills us with anxiety after being in household bubbles for so long – with the survey revealing over half of Brits (51%) feel nervous about this. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter if you’re mingling with strangers or close family, with anxiety levels similar for attending large events such as festivals (44%) to those who admit to feeling nervous about socialising with friends and family at parties or weddings (40%).

Travel is another area for concern, with one in three feeling uneasy about getting on public transport (33%). This is not only true for the commute, but also when it comes to travelling for holidays – so much so that over a fifth (21%) are undecided if they will travel at all this summer, and one in ten are too nervous to travel this summer over fears of getting ill (12%).

The survey also reveals that Brits have found themselves having less common day-to-day illnesses such as colds (43%), but worry that this will change with restrictions easing. And it’s not just adults, parents in the UK have noticed a difference in their children’s health since going back to school after lockdown, with 77% stating their children had had more sick days since returning to the classroom, with an average of 3 more days off than usual.

Some health savvy Brits have been trying to improve their lifestyle and support their post-lockdown immunity through small changes - such as drinking more water (25%) and getting more sleep (16%). However, a third of those polled (34%) admit that whilst they want to look after their immune system, they simply don’t know where to start.

For those looking for advice on how to help give their immune system some post-lockdown support, Actimel has partnered with nutritionist Toral Shah, also known as the Urban Kitchen, to give you some easy-to-follow tips to help support it. Toral’s top tips include:

· EXERCISE – “We all know that exercise is good for our health, but did you know that regular exercise can help our immune system and stimulate some of the immune processes? Exercise increases the surveillance function of our immune system to catch potential pathogens.”

· STRESS – “Stress can not only affect our minds, but it can actually negatively impact our immune system as well. Practicing stress relieving techniques such as meditation and yoga can support our immune system to work optimally. Loneliness is associated with chronic stress so connection with friends and family - whether that be virtual or in person if you feel comfortable - can also help our immune systems!”

· VITAMIN D - “Vitamin D is known to help support our immune health. In the UK, we don’t have enough UV light to make vitamin D in our skin from October to March. This means that we need to eat vitamin D rich foods or supplements.

· SLEEP – “Being sleep deprived increases our susceptibility to infection. Sleep and our circadian rhythms (our body’s response to day and night) regulate our immune system and increases its effectiveness, so getting a good night’s sleep is even more important than we thought.

· EAT THE RAINBOW – “Phytochemicals are powerful compounds produced by plants that gives food their characteristic colours and are known to help support the immune system. Eating a varied diet of colourful plant foods can help to increase our resilience.”

Discover Actimel’s range of delicious cultured yoghurt shots – with each shot bursting with 10 billion L. casei cultures. It also contains 30 per cent of your daily reference Intake (RI) for vitamin D and 15 per cent of your RI for vitamin B6, which both play a role in helping to support your immune system**.