MyMT™ Blog

Nutrition and Immune Function: Evidence for boosting respiratory immunity as you move into post-menopause.

Bergamot, Quercetin, Oleuropein … how many of you are getting these powerful and scientifically evidenced nutrients into your diet every day? Especially, as we continue to navigate the viral chaos that has changed our lives. 

I have numerous ladies in the MyMT™ Community who were diagnosed positive for the current virus that continues to linger on with its variants.  Many are experiencing challenges with ongoing fatigue. Here in New Zealand the health system remains in crisis with winter flus and colds and every day we continue to hear the news that the Covid crisis is not over. 

So, here’s my question to you. No matter where in the world you live, what emphasis are you placing on your immune and respiratory health as you move through menopause? 

With more and more research showing that post-Covid fatigue syndrome affects both heart and lung inflammation, and because women are more susceptible to changing lung health as oestrogen levels decline, this is my reminder to you that certain nutrients matter. 

My nutritional focus in the MyMT™ Food Guide which is included in the  12 week online programmes is an anti-inflammatory one. Developed from women’s healthy ageing research, I have now added in a focus on nutrients such as Quercetin, Bergamot and of course, if you have sore joints, then you need to know about Oleuropein – a compound present in cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. These are just some of the nutrients that are now evidenced to improve our immune health and have been reported in the American Nutrition Association [ANA] over the past year as new research emerges about how to stay healthy in a pandemic.   

Our menopause transition is a vulnerable time for women.

When we aren’t sleeping, or when we have thyroid problems, or if we are feeling anxious, depressed and we are experiencing gut health problems, weight gain or sore joints, then our immune system is suffering. 

This week, those of you in Australia and those here in New Zealand are having another go at lockdowns. Whilst all the women on my programmes are facing different challenges in their lives, the best thing I’ve been sharing with them is to maintain their focus on their immune health. Especially when it comes to the nutrients that are evidenced to help us stay well. 

Over the past 2 years, it’s been increasingly obvious, that our immune health matters and as such, I’ve been following the lifestyle science as fast as it is coming out. Some of that research has been from nutritional science sources, so a big shout-out to the American Nutrition Association (ANA) which quickly formed a task-force of clever nutritional scientists to bring together the latest evidence that is helping me to help women on my programmes as well as in my newsletter community. That’s you. 

Whilst there is a note of caution from the ANA Task Force, that these nutritional strategies are supportive only, because no large-scale study has been undertaken to provide long-term data, they have provided an overview of foods, nutrients and food compounds backed up by immune science research.  

Our immune function matters. Especially during menopause.

I’ve spoken about the fact that this is a time in our lives when we become more vulnerable to health problems. But this isn’t ‘just’ because our hormones are changing. Our organs and tissues are ageing and ageing itself can set up pockets of inflammation around our cells and tissues. Add to this the inflammation that occurs in mucous membranes from viral infections and you have a cocktail of inflammation that needs to subside … hence, prevention pays – big time!

Identifying that there is a need to reduce inflammation as well as reduce the viral load, with this approach, the ANA suggest that the following bio-active nutrients may be helpful (please note that this information is not intended as a ‘cure’ but as immune enhancing prevention only): 

  1. Curcumin (Turmeric).
  2. Bergamot – part of the citrus fruit family.
  3.  Quercetin – This is a plant pigment (flavonoid) found in numerous foods such as  such as leafy green vegetables, broccoli, red onions, peppers, dill, oregano, green tea, apples, berries and red wine.
  4. Kaempferol – this is another flavonoid which is found in a variety of plants and plant-derived foods including kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli.
  5. Oleuropein – in the MyMT programmes, all of the women know that olive oil matters to their joint health! But they also know that it matters to their immune health as well. This powerful immune-boosting anti-inflammatory compound is fond in extra virgin olive oil and olive leaves.
  6. Catechins – these are known anti-infectious compounds that are found in certain foods and in Green Tea. Green tea is one of the most popular drinks consumed worldwide. Produced mainly in Asian countries from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the potential health benefits have been widely studied. It’s a big component of the types of beverages that I advise women to drink in the MyMT™ programmes too. 
  1. Vitamin C – many of us already know that this is an important nutrient for our immune health, but what we need to remember is that it is needed to help white blood cells to fight infections. It is also required to assist the absorption of iron. And adequate iron for those of you in peri-menopause, helps to protect us against vulnerability to infections. If you are in peri-menopause and you are still menstruating, then you need at least 12 mg a day of iron. With the need for Vitamin C, how much time did you spend in the fruit and vegetable section the last time you shopped?
  2. Vitamin A – this terrific vitamin gets forgotten about in times of infection because most people associate it with eye health. And yes, it is important for our eye health, but it also supports the health of mucosal tissues. Our mucosal tissues are the first point of entry for the virus – think about your nose, mouth and eyes! As well, researchers have found that Vitamin A also helps to regulate our immune system via the Gut Microbiome.
  3. Vitamin D – you’ve heard it before in here and you are going to hear it again. As we go into menopause, our largest organ, the skin, loses the ability to absorb Vitamin D. This makes women in menopause susceptible to respiratory infections because this vital vitamin is well known to help to boost our immune system. Exposure to sunlight or if you can’t get into sunlight because of where you live then please look at sourcing a supplement.

10. Vitamin E – Whilst not specifically an anti-viral nutrient, ANA researchers promote this nutrient because it is an efficient anti-oxidant and plays an important role in lung and liver protection. This makes it a powerful anti-oxidant (removes harmful particles) and anti-inflammatory nutrition. It is fat-soluble, which means that it accumulates in lipid (fat) membranes. Some of the best sources of Vitamin E available during the lock-down and that can be stored more readily in your pantry, will be Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Butternut Squash, Avocados and Olive-oil.

11. Zinc and Selenium are also mentioned by the ANA so don’t forget your Brazil nuts – 3-4 brazil nuts can provide your daily dose of selenium, so get some of these in your pantry as well. Cashews, Almonds and Kidney Beans are also great sources of Zinc in the absence of fresh fish, oysters or beef. 

With staffing shortages in many vocations here in New Zealand as well as Australia and the UK, I want to do a shout-out to those of you having to work as hard as you’ve ever had to. I know your energy levels will be suffering, because during our menopause transition, there are additional demands placed on our cells and tissues and because we are losing muscle density, the number and size of mitochondrial cells decreases.

This is an important concern for women in midlife, because our mitochondrial cells are where energy is produced. And if we don’t have enough energy to get through the demands of our day, our menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and brain fog become worse. 

Thank you for being part of the MyMT™ community. Whilst I know that many of you may not afford to join me on the 12 week programmes, I hope you can take up my offer of my post-menopause July SALE (listen to the video below) – apply the promo code MYMTJULY when you purchase. As well, have a listen to my Masterclass on Menopause, which I’ve put online for you and you can read about it HERE.

Where-ever you are in the world, have a great weekend and eat your apples.

Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD/ MyMT Founder/ Member: Australasian Lifestyle Medicine Society. 


American Nutrition Association (2020). Personalised Nutrition and the Covid-19 Era.  Online Access

Kato, Y., Domoto, T. et al (2014). Effect on Blood Pressure of Daily Lemon Ingestion and Walking. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Volume 2014, Article ID 912684

Mortaz E, Bezemer G, Alipoor SD, Varahram M, Mumby S, Folkerts G, Garssen J, Adcock IM. (2021). Nutritional Impact and Its Potential Consequences on COVID-19 Severity. Front Nutr. Jul 5;8:698617. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.698617.

Reygaert, W. (2018). Green Tea Catechins: Their Use in Treating and Preventing Infectious Diseases. Biomed Research Int’al, pp.1-9 Open Access: 

Wenyan Sun, Frost B., & Jiankang Liu (2017). Oleuropein, unexpected benefits! Oncotarget, 8, (11), pp: 17409-17409

Related Tag: Menopause Supplements Australia

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