Right now, many people are worried about their health and the health of their loved ones, so today I want to touch on what supports versus depletes the immune system.
This can be a really big topic yet it’s also pretty simple and obvious because, as always, it’s about going back to basics.
Here are some of the key factors that play a role in the healthy functioning of the immune system:
Eat enough food, of the right kind at the right times. This is pretty straight forward, you want to be eating good variety of high-quality foods (i.e. pure, unprocessed, natural). An excellent rule to live by is ‘crowd out the bad with the good’; so, I’d say this should be 80% a whole food diet and 20% for slightly more processed foods. You also want to be eating enough and at the rights time. On previous emails I’ve talked about blood sugar balance A LOT, this is key for your immune system health.
Stay well hydrated
If you are hydrated your body is better able to process and flush out toxins. So, drink plenty of water either side of meals and I’m sure you know by now, but if you’re urine is dark in colour this typically means you’re dehydrated. It should be pale yellow in colour. I like to start my day with a pint of warm water with some freshly squeezed lemon. This helps to flush out all of the toxins that the body has been working on over-night and also helps to alkalise the body which aids overall health.
If your body is having to deal with and process lots of toxins, then it has less attention and energy to focus on other things – such as fighting of viruses, bacteria and reducing inflammation. You are simply over-burdening your body. So, avoid harsh chemicals in cleaning products, cosmetics, deodorants, air fresheners, scented candles, laundry detergents, plastics, pollution. With food this would be overly processed, man-made food and factory farmed meat, fish and dairy prodcuts. It goes without saying that smoking is also toxic.
Also a toxin. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour. Drink a lot in a short space of time and the amount of alcohol in the blood can stop the body from working properly.
Move your body
Skin is the body’s largest organ and it’s also a key player in the detoxification process because sweating is one of the main ways the body expels toxins. So, when you exercise and work up a sweat you are helping the body detoxify (the same goes for saunas). However, we also have a little-known system in the body called the Lymphatic Drainage System. Your body relies on your lymphatic system to remove waste, like bacteria, viruses, toxins and abnormal cells. And every step you take helps it do its job. That’s because the lymphatic system does not have an organ like the heart to pump fluid around your body. Lymph fluid relies on movement and the contraction of your muscles to make it flow.
Manage your stress
As I said in an email last week, stress is key in the suppression of the immune system for a whole host of reasons. So, maintaining a calm state is important not just for your overall of quality of life and health but also more specifically for your immunity.
Whilst we sleep our body does most of its detoxification, cell renewal and repair so it is really important that we don’t skimp on sleep. Fortunately, I think for most people during this time of isolation, we will have more chance to sleep, so aim to clock up 8-10 hours per night!
Look after your gut
A healthy interaction between our immune system and the gut microbiota is crucial for the maintenance of our body’s homeostasis and health. Imbalances in the gut microbiota may dysregulate immune responses. Keep your gut healthy with whole foods, limit processed foods, preservatives, too much sugar and eat/supplement with pre and probiotics. Also keep stress down because this plays a key role in gut issues.
Get enough Vit D
It’s always a good idea to supplement with Vitamin D during the darker winter months especially if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. However, spending time in the sun is also a great way to boost your levels. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. Over here in the UK we are experiencing some amazingly sunny weather right now so make the most of this whilst of course also taking protective measures wearing adequate sunscreen if you are exposed to strong sunlight for more than 10-minutes.