Narrabeen, NSW 2101, Australia

Six Ways to Boost your Immune System

There are loads of information out there on how to protect ourselves and prevent viruses from spreading, but not so much attention has been put into the importance of self-care and boosting our immune system.[1]

What Exactly Is Your Immune System?

Our immune system not only helps protect us from bacteria and other invaders, but it also impacts virtually every other system of our body from hormones to nervous system. Our immune system has a great impact on how our body functions as a whole and how we look, feel and even think every day. [2]

The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals scattered throughout our body that fight infection (microbes). There are two major goals for immune cells:

  • Addressing issues inside your cells.
  • Attacking infections on the outside of the cells.

Most healthy person will have enough of both types of cells, fully functioning and performing their critical roles. But the problem is when things interfere with these cells’ ability to respond to the areas they influence.

The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet

Around 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. The gastrointestinal system plays a key role in the complex mechanisms of immunoregulation [3]. Our gut bacteria works integrally with our immune system to establish oral tolerance, ensuring we don’t overreact to our environment. The good bacterias in our gut (also known as probiotics) protect us against pathogen colonisation and invasion of harmful microbes that enter the body every single day. Gut bacteria also crowd out pathogenic bacteria, prevent them from adhering to the gut lining and gaining entry, as well as producing lactic acid which helps stop harmful bacteria growing. [4]

Factors that Affect the Immune System

Several factors can affect the immune system’s performance, and any offsets in these behaviours can cause havoc on immune function: [5,6,7, 8]

  1. Heavy Metals (Aluminium and mercury mainly)
  2. Pesticides/Herbicides (Usually sprayed over non-organic foods)
  3. Poor Digestive Health (Improper levels of good bacterias and leaky gut syndrome)
  4. Hormonal Imbalance (high cortisol levels, low DHEA, Thyroid dysfunction)

Six Ways to Boost your Immune System:

So how do you give this amazing system the support it needs to best protect you?

1. Minimise the Intake of Inflammatory/ Toxic Foods

When we consume foods that are toxic to our system, our immune system activates the inflammation response in an effort to protect our cells and tissues. If we continue to consume those toxins on daily basis, our immune cells start to overreact and inflammation starts to run rampant throughout the body. This chronic inflammation impairs our immune system’s ability to respond when we come into contact with the flu. Therefore, it is very important to minimise, or even avoid, the intake of foods that cause toxicity and inflammatory responses. Here are a few examples below:

  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • Processed and industrialised foods
  • Poor quality vegetable oils
  • Gluten
  • Poor quality Dairy
  • Antibiotics
  • Poor quality supplements

2. Increase the intake of Immune Boosting foods

Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to help boost our immune system. Feeding our body with the right foods makes our immune system stronger:

  • Citrus – Includes oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections.
  • Turmeric – Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, responsible for the distinct yellow colouring and the impressive list of health properties. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, detoxifying and amazing for digestive health.
  • Ginger – Studies have shown that ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage.
  • Garlic – it also a potent immune warrior that protects the body from infections and illness.
  • Green leafy vegetables – are the source of a chemical signal that is important to a fully functioning immune system.
  • Oregano Oil – it has wide-reaching health benefits, but is most associated with respiratory and immune system. it also contains nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, boron, and niacin.
  • Probiotic rich foods: You can take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria. Examples include kefir, kombucha tea, yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables.

3. Consider taking core Immune Booster Supplements in Case of Deficiency: 

Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of the infection. When searching for supplements to boost your immune system, look primarily to the ones below:

  • Vitamin C – enhances white blood cells response, increases interferon levels and improves the integrity of the mucous membranes. It is involved in tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, immune system support, iron absorption and stomach acid activation. Increased vitamin C requirements are observed in periods of stress for immune system support.
  • Magnesium – vital for the proper functioning of your body. Supports adrenal function, sleep, muscle tension and blood sugar levels.
  • Probiotics –  Supports our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream.
  • Zinc – promotes destruction of foreign particles, is required for proper functioning of white blood cells and activates immune enhancing thymus hormone.
  • Deficiency in B6, B12 and folic acid impairs immune function and immune response.

4. Stay Hydrated 

Our Immune system simply cannot function if we are dehydrated. Therefore, we have to be well hydrated if we want to strengthen the immune system and protect against pathogens. Make sure to have at the very least 2.5L water per day, up to 4L if you are active.[9]

5. Manage Daily Stress

The brain and the immune system are in constant communication in this balance that can be disrupted by any kind of physical or emotional stress. Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones (i.e. cortisol) that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time. [8]

Therefore it is really important to find some time to de-stress on daily basis. Some really wonderful ways that I have learnt to de-stress is introducing yoga and meditation into my morning ritual as well as having a daily exercise routine.

6. Stay Active

Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. Yet sedentary or excessive behaviour can have the opposite effect. Therefore, it is important to find the right balances in terms of intensity. So, my suggestion to you is listen to your body and do what is possible and acceptable for you in this moment. Too much of a good thing can be as harmful as too little of it. The important thing is to keep moving. [10]

References

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