The 6 things you didn’t know boost your immune system

By Dr Glen Lehane

The immune system within our body is a complex system and its primary role is to prevent or limit infection. When the body is under threat the immune system responds to address the problem, however if the immune response cannot be activated when there is a sufficient need, problems arise like a viral infection.There are 2 pillars of the immune system. The innate immunity and the adaptive (or acquired) immunity:

Innate Immunity:

Is the first line of defense in our immune system. Innate is the natural ability for the body to fight off a virus or bacteria, many layers of defense protect and mount a defense.

Adaptive Immunity:

Is a subset of the immune system that develops a specialised response as a result of exposure to a threat. It creates a type of memory to enhance the defense and protect the body if the same threat happens again, sometimes it has trouble distinguishing between harmful or harmless in conditions such as hay fever or allergies. Adaptive immunity can be beneficial to the body but we are limited on what we can do to change this. There are however specific things we can do to support our innate immunity and our bodies inherent recuperative power to heal itself without the use of drugs.

Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise is an extensive list and it is a vital part of staying healthy. Exercise helps regulate many processes within our body including sleep cycles, hormones, energy and even memory. Extreme exercise may weaken the body’s immune system, so it is important that we are staying active with low to moderate intensity exercise and have fun with it! Exercise should be something that we can all enjoy whether it’s walking the dog, going for a run, cycling with our family or just throwing a ball in the backyard. Try and focus on exercises that are fun because they’re the ones we will do more often, even better if it’s
something that brings you upright like swimming, rowing or walking.

Diet

Reducing Sugar & AlcoholWe’ve all heard that you get out of something, what you put in. The same can be said with our body. Nutrition is a foundational building block of our health and it can also be a somewhat confusing realm. Everything we put into our bodies must go somewhere, it provides our body with the fuel for energy, tissue repair, organ function and our bodies defense. When we consume, breathe or absorb anything that may increase inflammation, cause toxin build up or affect chemical balance it has a detrimental effect. It is well known that sugars, alcohol, unnecessary medications, smoking, ultra-processed foods, and toxic chemicals cause inflammation leading to an unnecessary immune response. This will lead to a reduction in your immune system function when you need it most.

Sunshine:

Vitamin D3It sounds simple but unfortunately it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D from sunshine alone, with our society spending more time inside than ever before. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for healthy strong bones and to regulate calcium levels in our body. However, recent research has shown that Vit D is a direct immune response modulator helping control the switching on and off of our immune cells locally . It affects both the innate and acquired immune response and especially if our immune system is overactive when it shouldn’t be like autoimmune disease or allergies Vit D may be a keystone to regulating our immune system. High quality Vit D has been proven to reduce the risk and severity of many infections, and ensure we maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D in our body.

Reduce Stress:

Daily Down Time or MeditationStress. I’m not stressed. I have heard many times before people say they’re not stressed, well truth is we all experience stress in our lives and it is normal to have feelings of stress. What isn’t normal is being in a state of stress for long periods of time, this is when our body stops performing all the automatic processes well. Digestion, sleep, tissue repair, regeneration, reproduction, and immunity. These will all suffer when we are chronically stressed, whether it be from work, relationships, family, kids or finances often we are experiencing a period of chronic stress without knowing it. There are many ways to combat our stress levels to get our body functioning at its best again. A great place to start is some guided meditation or breathing exercises, some form or regular down time will help slow your brain waves and engage your automatic processes to switch on and thrive. Use technology in our favour for this one with great apps like Smiling Mind or Calm, even jump on youtube and start a program they’re all free, what are you waiting for!

Supplements

Zinc and Vitamin CHow does that work? Well these two supplements have a key role in heightening your immune response making it stronger for longer. Research shows us that high dose vitamin C and zinc especially in combination reduce both the risk and severity of infections especially the common cold or flu. Especially important with modern diets lacking in fresh food, ensuring we have a healthy diet and when indicated taking supplements to support our nutritional deficiencies during periods of heightened risk is key. When it comes to supplements it’s all about what your body can absorb so your innate immune system can utilise it and using the most bioavailable supplements is very important just like taking zinc in a liquid form will ensure you get the best results.

Sleep

Sleep is vital for our immune system and our bodies as a whole. It is the special time set aside each and every day for repair, digestion, balancing hormones, and re-energising our body. When we are sleep deprived this affects our body in a host of ways. The research shows that sleep-deprived people can have suppressed immunity, meaning they’re at more risk for becoming ill. Ensuring our sleep cycles or circadian rhythm is well maintained aids in getting good quality sleep for the time our body needs. There are some key things you can do to regulate your sleep these include; having regularly timed meals, exercising regularly, reducing bright lights and screen time, setting an evening routine, avoiding sugar and caffeine late in the day and plenty more.
The importance here is to really focus on what we can control. We often get swept up by worrying about
specific bugs, viruses or stressors going on around us that we forget how important it is to look after our
bodies natural resilience to fight off disease. Health is an inside job. Look after your body and it will look after you!

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