In 2020, we saw the emergence of the novel pathogen SARS-CoV-2, and the spread of its resulting disease, COVID-19.
When it comes to bolstering the immune system, a lot of people just want a quick fix or magic pill, but unfortunately, there is no such thing.
If that’s disappointing, there’s still some good news: the most scientifically sound approaches to keeping your immune system healthy are healthy habits that don’t require you to buy pills or eat strange foods.
Stress weakens your immune system. Simple adjustments such as disconnecting from news sources, social media, and reducing your screen time and information ‘intake’ in general are good ways to reduce stress.
Opting for walks or exercise in nature and open spaces, taking time to connect with your family, friends and pets is also hugely beneficial to your nervous system and general wellbeing.
Practicing mindfulness, breath work and incorporating meditation into your daily routine also helps to soothe your nervous system and reduce your stress response.
Learn more about the benefits of meditation and how to get started here.
Exercise is a simple way of boosting your defence system. Just 30 mins a day of walking, cycling, swimming or stretching / yoga will make a huge difference to your health and immune system.
Deep sleep is when our body goes into detoxification, rest and repair mode. Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders your body might come into contact with, like the common cold. So a good night’s sleep helps to strengthen your immune response and it is especially important to allow yourself time to rest and recover when you are not feeling well.
Some tips for a good night’s sleep:
Turn off devices and screens a good hour before bed. Wind down with a bath or shower, a good book and if you can, practice a few minutes of mindful breathing and meditation to soothe the nervous system into the rest and digest state.
- Some gentle stretching or ‘Yin’ Yoga also does wonders for the body and mind setting you up for a blissful night’s sleep.
- Allow your organs to rest and digest comfortably whilst you sleep by abstaining from eating at least 3 hours before bedtime and eating light, nutritious and easily digestible foods for your evening meal.
- Abstaining from alcohol also provides a better night’s sleep, helping you to awaken more easily and with more energy.
- And lastly, hydrate with a glass of water or cup of soothing herbal tea before bedtime - try peppermint to help with digestion or chamomile to help soothe you into sleep mode 30 to 60 minutes before hitting the hay.
For further advice on healthy sleep, visit Dr Libby Weaver’s blog for more tips and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall health.
The simple rule here is prepare your own food as much as possible! And use ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible. Avoid processed, convenience and fast foods and try to have at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
There is no single food, diet, supplement, natural remedy or product on the supermarket shelf that will effectively ‘boost’ your immune system. However, certain nutrients can alter the way in which the immune system functions, and the inclusion of these nutrients is therefore very important to optimise immune health:
Reducing sugar, trans fats, processed foods and increasing natural fibre by eating wholegrains, fibrous fruits and vegetables help to balance and restore a healthy microbiome.
Adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi to your meals or taking a good probiotic are also ways to improve your healthy gut bacteria.
Gut health is a huge topic and integral to your overall health and wellbeing. So if you want to dive in further and learn more about how to optimise your microbiome, check out Dr Libby’s suggestions on ‘Daily habits to help keep your gut healthy’.
Refer to our Home Health blogs on topics such as Avoiding Hormone Disruptors and Reducing Toxins in Your Home for simple ways to reduce yours and your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals that weaken the immune system and erode health over time.
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Simply put, this term describes the amount of toxins in your body that you are unable to get rid of. What is left is called “toxic burden” or “toxic overload”. Too many toxins in your body at once will overload your system, and can lead to increased inflammation and oxidative stress if you don't reduce your exposure.
Inflammation (swelling), which is part of the body’s natural healing system, helps fight injury and infection. But it doesn’t just happen in response to injury and illness. An inflammatory response can also occur when the immune system goes into action without an injury or infection to fight.