As winter begins in Perth, I’d like to revisit the keys to keeping our immune system in optimal function. There will always be a new virus or “bug” revealing itself, but the keys are rarely different.
Keep yourself well!
Organisms are inhaled, swallowed and touched daily through the foods we eat, objects we touch and air we breath. This dance never changes so rather than retreat, we must continue to co-inhabit this beautiful world and remain in harmony.
Whether or not the organisms are pathogenic, our body response depends more upon our first line of defense which tasked by our immune system.
When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. Although sometimes when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions. Markers such as IgA, white blood cell numbers, CRP or similar may indicate disruption and potential for infections to take hold.
If you are wondering how to boost your immune system, I’ll share with you some of the easiest to start. Unfortunately they might not magically get you to a better state of health within a click of your fingers.
It does take time and as the old proverb says, “Prevention is better than cure”.
There is no better time to start than now. And by starting to strengthen your immune system and taking control of your health, you will be ready to combat the next new virus or bug that spreads the community.
Immune System Boosters
As Hippocrates said nearly 2500 years ago, “All disease begins in the Gut”. And germs often cross the mucous membranes because of increased permeability, also known as, leaky gut.
Bone broth is high in collagen and amino acids which help repair the gut lining and reduce inflammation at the gut wall. This has a flow on effect to the whole immune system strength. Plus it warms you up purely with the warm of the broth!
Ginger has multiple positive effects on the immune system. Firstly it increases blood circulation which helps to clear stagnant accumulation of toxins in the extremities and move the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is full of white blood cells ready to fight infections so this action is extremely helpful.
Research also shows that ginger has antimicrobial and antiviral potential, which helps in treating infectious diseases.
Ginger is also known for its ability to promote anti-inflammatory actions in the body that are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Echinacea contains many medicinal constituents which are powerful immune system stimulants. Australia’s Herbalist Kerry Bone invested over $1 million dollars researching the effects that can provide significant therapeutic value. This and much more research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections.
Reviews of multiple human studies which even included double blind, randomized trials, showed positive effects of Echinacea. The benefits included reduction of duration of upper respiratory infections, immunostimulating effects and overall symptom reduction.
Zinc supplements are one pillar to successfully fight germs responsible for colds and other illnesses. Research evaluating the efficacy of zinc shows that it can interfere with a molecular process that causes bacteria buildup in the mucous membranes in the nasal passage.
Various studies support evidence to show a reduction in frequency of infections, particularly the common cold, influenza and upper respiratory tract infections.
Lack of sleep negatively impacts our immune system in multiple ways. During the sleep cycles, our body recovers from the day and works through repairing our cells. Stress levels are also reduces as cortisol levels drop and melatonin levels surge.
To reduce your chances of catching a chest infections and the flu, make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of good quality sleep every night.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excess alcohol has been shown to negatively impact almost all systems in the body. Therefore consuming too much alcohol can certainly impact immune function and reduce your ability to fight infections and promote a healthy immune system.
Alcohol negatively impact gut health, sleep quality, blood sugar regulation, kidney function, liver function and a great deal more. By adding strain to these mentioned areas, your immune system is too stress and has a harder time functioning at its optimal level. Ideally aim to stick to one or 2 alcohol drinks a week, or less, to boost your immune system.
Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and a vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection.
Research has solidly proven that vitamin D works to maintain tolerance and promote protective immunity. There have been multiple cross-sectional studies that associate lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection and even more chronic diseases such as Lupus, MS and diabetes.
When did you last check your vitamin D blood levels? Best to check now to see where your levels sit in order to know if you need to supplement or not. Furthermore you might need to dose at a higher level if you are significantly low.
Because intestinal hyperpermeability is a major cause of immune imbalance or a weakened immune system, it’s important to keep your digestive system healthy and consume probiotic foods and supplements.
Probiotics are concentrations of good bacteria that help you digest your foods better and help the detoxification of your colon which improves the function of your immune system.
Hundreds of research studies published over the past 10 years suggests that probiotic organisms may induce different immune modulating responses, reduce gastrointestinal diarrhorea, stimulate immune responses and improve general wellbeing. Probiotics are quite remarkable in their health giving properties.
Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) Foods
Beta-carotene has powerful antioxidant activity, allowing it to help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Instead of taking beta-carotene supplements, researchers propose that beta-carotene can promote health when taken at dietary levels, by eating foods rich in the carotenoid.
The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies, and leafy greens. Adding the following foods to your diet can help promote a strong immune system:
- Orange sweet potato
- red capsicum
Back to Basics
Basic protective measures can greatly reduce the chance of getting the infection in the first place. When there are viruses and infectious bugs going around, it’s important to protect yourself and those around you.
- frequent hand washing, for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your face
- stay home when sick and rest
- cough or sneeze into your elbow
- Get the right practitioner attention and treatment when needed
Get in touch now for help with your immune system.