Our immune system is our bodies very own military defence force. Weapons are primed, aimed and ready to blast as soon as any invaders pop their heads up. It is essential for our survival. This vast network of cells and tissues keep us healthy by attacking any foreign bodies that might harm us. And importantly it’s an intelligent system, that keeps a record of every germ it encounters and knows to ignore the vast majority of bacteria, that is harmless and cooperative with our bodies.
It’s a balance not a boost
We need to keep our immune system in balance. Really it should never need a magical boost because we’ve got it sorted. But we know life isn’t like that, and we all seem to get run down at different times when life takes over. Below are some key findings on how we can work with our bodies to stay strong and keep our immune system at it’s optimum performance level.
Focus on Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system, they protect cells from harmful free radicals that produce an inflammatory response in the body. When free radicals accumulate they promote a state known as oxidative stress which has been linked to many chronic diseases like heart disease. Stock up on citrus fruits for vitamin C, and lots and lots of antioxidant rich foods like berries, dark chocolate, kidney beans, coffee. All the good stuff.
Enjoy the sunshine
There’s overwhelming evidence that Vitamin D has numerous positive effects on cells within the immune system. When UVB rays hit our skin they react with oils to produce Vitamin D that is slowly absorbed by our bodies. Enjoy in moderation, 10 minutes a day of midday sun is enough to take in all the Vitamin D we need.
We know for some people getting a good nights sleep is easier said than done, but research shows that enough sleep improves the production of anti-inflammatory substances by the immune system.
Alcohol in moderation
This ties in nicely with getting a good nights sleep, because alcohol is a sleep disrupter. It’s essentially pure sugar, which is a deterrent to the body producing white blood cells which is what the immune system runs off. A glass now and again is fine, but in excess can lead to a weakened immune response.
Taking exercise, preferably outdoors, gets the blood circulating, releases endorphins, manages stress and just makes you feel good overall. Studies have shown that regular brisk walking increases the circulation of white blood cells. The Australian Department of Health recommends that we are active most days and build up to 2.5 to 5 hours a week of moderate intensity exercise.
Stay away from toxins
Give the cigarettes the heave ho. Nicotine directly interferes with the growth and function of immune cells. You’ll never reach optimum health when you smoke.
If there’s one thing that’s going to stress you out it’s telling you not to stress – we know, we’ve been there. But look, do what you can to minimise stress in your life, stress releases cortisol which essentially blocks the immune system. Listen to some meditation apps, take a walk in the great outdoors, do whatever feels right to get you in the right head space. Good health is about balance, not a quick fix, and it takes time to get it right. Be kind to yourself and you’ll get there in the end.
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