This post is a focus on supporting our immune system for all of the obvious reasons and the last 18 months. I am also seeing the return of the common cold, sniffles and general feeling unwell at this time of year. I had a poll on my social media this week and 60% of replies said they were taking daily steps to keep their immune system healthy while 40% said they normally wait for the sniffles to think about what their body needs. I’m hoping todays post will give you some ideas and inspiration to prioritise your health during these cold months.
Stress : This is the first point on the list because in my opinion, it’s the most important. Not just for the immune system but for the overall health of our bodies and minds. Stress can be seen with extreme emotions, trauma and grief or everyday occurrences like completing job tasks, dealing with co-workers, our boss, our family and friends, managing health issues, learning how to do something new etc.
The Stress Response : When we are experiencing stress, discomfort or busyness, our bodies release cortisol and other stress hormones to help us cope. It heightens our awareness and can be really beneficial in circumstances that needs focus. The immune system is de-prioritised during this process. When the experience is over, stress hormones reduce and balance is restored. Immune function and other body functions return to normal. There is a pause before the next stressful situation arises. Then hormones are go and we are once again in heightnend awareness. But …. What happens when we go from one stressful situation into the next. No Pause. No restoration of balance. The immune remains low down on the bodies list of priorities and we start to feel unwell.
What can I do? Look at what is stressing you out and be really honest with yourself. Don’t compare your life or your stress to anybody else. If you feel it, its valid.
Diet : I know I know. It’s mentioned in every article you read but really when you think about it, our food is so important to how the body is functioning. Did you know – low nutritional diet depletes essential Vitamins and minerals needed by the body. Alcohol depletes Vitamin B & C, Smoking reduces Vitamin C and the cadmium in cigarette smoke depletes Zinc. Other recreational drugs can weaken the immunity by reducing the function of white blood cells.
What can I do? Reduce your processed foods, sugar and stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. Increase fresh food with a good balance of complex carbohydrates & good quality proteins. Buy Organic if possible. Top ten immune boosting vegetables – Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Garlic, Shitake Mushrooms, Brussel Sprouts, Red Onions, Bell Peppers, Squash. Top ten immune boosting fruit – Strawberries, Kiwis, Blueberries, Melon, Apples, Oranges, Lemons, Cranberries, Peaches, Pineapple. Or … just eat all the fruit and veg you like and likes you.
Load up on nutrition and give your body the fuel it needs to complete all its daily tasks. You don’t need to make huge changes all at once. Take one thing per week and implement that first. Slow and steady every time.
Supplementation : While you are getting to grips with the diet, you may need to supplement your Vitamins and Minerals. Immune Specific requirements are Vitamin B, C, D, Zinc and Magnesium. If you have a history of taking antibiotics, you may benefit from a Probiotic to replenish the gut flora. I would suggest a trip to the health store and a chat with the Health staff there. Ensure you are buying a good brand that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. The last thing you want to do is put more pressure on an overburdened system. You could also consult with a Nutritionist or Herbalist 🙋♀️ if you need some extra support.
Exercise / Movement: When we talk about our immunity, we are essentially talking about our lymphatic system as this is where our body filters bacteria and viruses. The lymph is something similar to blood, in that, it moves around the body in vessels but it doesn’t have a pump in the same way as the heart pumps the blood. It relies on muscle contraction to move the lymphatic fluid to where it needs to go. When we move our muscles, we move our lymph and we boost our immunity.
Water: This is the main component of lymph and so its important to increase your water intake, hot drinks (not coffee and tea as they can increase water loss) fruits, herbal teas etc. Drink the purest water you can manage and do it throughout the day in small amounts.
I make a nice hot drink in the morning after my walk and it’s been tweeked this month to include some essentials for this time of year.
Sleep: Sleep depravation can have a negative impact on your immune function as it needs the body to switch off into sleep so it can restore and strengthen itself.
What can I do? Look at how you can get more good quality sleep. Ensure there is a winding down before bed. Does the body need to physically relax with :
Does the mind need to slow down with :
Do you need to reduce screen time before sleep? Does your bedroom temperature and ventilation need adjusting ? Remember reducing your stress during the day will also help with your sleep at night.
Herbs : We have some lovely herbs to choose from when it comes to immune boosting or immune modulating as we prefer to call it. Echinacea is probably the most widly known and my personal favourite. This was the first herb that really showed me the power of plants and put me on the road to studying Herbal Medicine. You will always find images of the beautiful pink flower on my website and posts. I don’t recommend herbs here on my blog as a full consultation needs to be completed first. My aim with herbs is to reduce the symptoms but also to treat their underlying cause so a unique herbal remedy is formulated specifically for your needs.
I just wanted to finish with one last thought. Our bodies are wise beyond our comprehension. We have come so far in discovering all the wonderful things that happen on the inside but we are still learning. I am passionate about listening to our bodies wisdom. I honestly believe that the symptoms we experience are our body’s way of communicating with us. Nowadays more than ever we are disconnected from the body’s inner talk. When we get the cold, the sniffles or worse, something is clearing out. Sometimes the symptoms are the cure. Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to be sick. We need to give our body the space and time to rebalance once again and let the body teach us what we need to move forward. If we don’t get quiet, we cant listen.
I hope some of these tips are helpful. Stay warm and snuggly this month and know … I am here if you need support.
Till next time, Be well and happy.
Image Credit to : Emma Simpson https://unsplash.com/@esdesignisms