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Health store help

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Liz Beattie, onsite manager of Health Matters in Dublin’s Grafton Street

Independent health store advice on immunity support

Bad diet, poor sleep, stress, smoking, exposure to infectious particles, over-exercising, sedentary lifestyle and age all contribute to low immune function. In the age of worldwide pandemics, this can be a serious problem for many people. However, this is where your local health store can help with informed advice as well as immune-supporting supplements and herbs.

One of the best things to take to boost your immune system is vitamin C, found in colourful fruit and vegetables and as a supplement. Vitamin D is also important – sources include exposure to the sun and consumption of oily fish and fortified foods, it is most commonly taken as a supplement. Zinc, found in beans, nuts and some breakfast cereals can help combat the effects of stress which can contribute to a poorly functioning immune system.

Less well-known but very effective immune-boosting supplements include mushrooms such as reishi and camu camu, a fruit from South America, which has very high levels of vitamin C. Herbs and botanicals shown to possess antiviral, antibacterial and immunostimulatory effects include astragalus, elderberry, echinacea and olive leaf as well as manuka honey.

The role of friendly bacteria

‘Probiotics’, or cultures containing good bacteria, can help to replenish the bacteria in your gut and support the body in fighting viral infections. A healthy gut plays a vital role in a functioning immune system. Eating fermented foods like yogurt, pickles and kefir help friendly bacteria to grow and flourish. If you don’t eat enough of these, choose a friendly bacteria supplement that contains at least three billion viable bacteria per capsule.

Lifestyle advice

Hand hygiene is vitally important at this time – make sure to wash your hands frequently, particularly after coughing or sneezing. It is important to know that viruses can survive on hard surfaces, so keep on top of disinfecting. If a family member has a virus they should have bed rest to prevent exposing the virus to the rest of the family.

Keep rooms aired – dry stuffy environments promote viral transmission; wipe surfaces with anti-bacterial products; use tissues that can be thrown away immediately; avoid crowded places where risk of infection is greater; wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth when in contact with a sufferer.

Vitamins and minerals for immune support

  • Echinacea – works to support your immune system.
  • Elderberry tincture – can give the immune system a boost.
  • Manuka honey – look for the UMF logo to guarantee the real stuff with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Multivitamin – ensure you are getting everything. Olive leaf extract – an antioxidant rich immune supporter.
  • Selenium – the antioxidants in selenium can help the body fight a cold.

What’s What and Who’s Who at Health Matters

Health Matters in Grafton Street is part of a group of Health Matters stores on the east coast including the Ashleaf Centre in Crumlin, Bray, Clondalkin and City West. It opened in July 2014 and Liz Beattie has been its manager ever since.

“Even though we are right in the middle of Dublin city we have lots of regular customers who we know by name,” says Liz. “As well as tourists and other passing trade. The vast majority of people we see regularly work in Dublin and our busiest times are during the lunchtime break and from 5-7pm when people are heading home. We get people from every age group coming in – a lot of men who really look after themselves, teenagers and older people.

“I would say 80% of our stock is supplements and body care – we do stock some food but customers are less likely to want to carry heavy foods around town. Our food tends to be prepacks and dried foods such as oat cakes, pasta, peanut butter and cider vinegar. We have a good variety of teas. Gluten-free and dairy-free products are popular, our customers who drop in at lunchtime tend to buy snacks such as energy bars and lentil chips. We have fridges, but use them to store mainly probiotics, water and kombucha.

“We stock a full range of supplements including some unique brands. Our biggest sellers are digestive enzymes and probiotics, and anti-inflammatory supplements such as glucosamine and curcumin.

“We have a huge range of household and eco cleaning products with everything you need to run your home, and a big range of refillable cups etc. Our skincare and haircare products include high quality Irish made brands.

“We would have 10-15 products on special offer for the whole month, every month, and email our regular customers and loyalty card holders to update them on what we are offering. Our customer loyalty card is very popular.”

VISIT: Health Matters, 8 Grafton Street, Dublin 2
SPEAK TO: manager Elizabeth Beattie and sales assistants Suzanne French, Ruth O’Loughlin, Aimee McMullen, Margarita Veide, Martin O’Connor, herbalist Katie Persons and nutritionist Sinead Griffin.

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