With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much with us, and the season shifting towards winter in South Africa.

The subject of immunity and immune-boosting supplements is getting a lot of attention. We are all looking for ways to protect ourselves and our families from illness. Two simple, yet key things we can do to make a big difference, is to take care of our sleep routines and manage our nutritional intake.

Sleeping beauty

Sleep plays a big role in how our bodies fight off infection, and there are a wide range of foods and healthy beverages that can help us stay healthy. According to UC Health, when we sleep, our bodies produce a protein called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, creating an immune response.

Rooibos tea has long been known for its many health benefits, and more research is being conducted to back these claims. Rooibos increases the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (compounds that fight inflammation) and reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (compounds that promote inflammation).

Personally, I love a hot cup of rooibos tea in the evening before bed, or an iced tea on a hot summer’s day, so this is a simple (and delicious) way to get nutrients into the body.

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Why rooibos?

A cup of Rooibos tea is caffeine free, assisting the body to stay hydrated, which in turn helps the body eliminate toxins.

Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), explains further about Rooibos as an immune booster: “It is packed with polyphenols, which are micronutrients with antioxidant activity. Polyphenols act as scavengers of free radicals throughout the body, which are detrimental by-products of cell metabolism that can cause inflammation. Aspalatin – a unique antioxidant found only in Rooibos tea, will help to boost immunity, whilst protecting the body against other illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” she says.

Citrus fruits are also known as natural immune-boosters, due to their high Vitamin C content. Vitamin C increases the amount of white blood cells in our bodies, protecting us from infection. The ‘hot toddy’, a well-known homemade remedy for a cold or sore throat, combines whiskey, lemon, honey and hot water. Ginger and Turmeric are both natural anti-inflammatories.

There are a lot of immune boosting supplements on the market, such as the BOS Bounce Back Rooibos shot, which has been making waves since it launched last year, just as the pandemic took hold.

The Bounce Back shot contains orange juice, lemon juice, ginger extract, turmeric extract, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), a powerful disease (and delicious) fighting combination. Another favourite is a good old box of freshpak tagless tea bags, five roses rooibos and honey tagged teabags, each served in an individual envelope. If cold brews are more your thing then Carmien cranberry and hibiscus cold brew rooibos tea is for you.