July 20, 2021 3 min read
...masterfully and silently facing down an onslaught of stress and invaders from pathogens like bacteria, viruses and moulds as well as environmental pollutants, seasonal changes, stress and poor diets.
Without a functioning immune system, you would quickly be riddled with infection and disease, yet it's all too easy to take for granted.
So in order to give your precious immune system some well deserved appreciation and support, especially during these winter months when colds and flu's are doing the rounds, we have compiled a list of specific tools and habits you can incorporate to enhance your immunity and help keep you healthy.
Sleep has a direct impact on the immune system. Specifically, clocking 8 hours a night improves the functioning of your T-cells - a component of the immune system which protects you from virus's and other pathogens by attaching to, and destroying infected cells.
Sleep deprivation on the other hand, suppresses your immune function leaving you more susceptible to infection. The most restorative and health promoting sleep happens when stress hormones are at their lowest, this is between 8pm and 12am, when cortisol begins to rise again. So, early nights are indeed a way to build resilience and ward off the bugs.
Research clearly demonstrates that as little as 75 grams of sugar significantly suppresses your immune function for 5 hours, leaving you more at risk of infection. That’s regardless of how much sleep you are getting or the supplements you are taking. For context, 75 grams of sugar looks like a can of soft drink and a cup cake.
Before adding in any fancy or expensive extras, build a strong foundation for health by choosing unrefined, nutrient dense whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy proteins and fats, and by limiting the sugary treats and drinks. This will help to keep your blood sugar balanced, provide your body with the nutrients it needs and lower your risk of disease both in the immediate and long term future.
We recommend taking a good multi-vitamin and mineral complex if you are feeling depleted, as many vitamins and minerals are involved in keeping your immune system functioning well, such as C, D, B Vitamins, Magnesium and Selenium, however top of our list is Zinc, thanks to it's crucial, central role in developing and regulating immune cells, and its ability to stop infections such as cold virus's in their tracks.
So be sure that your multi has a good dose of Zinc, and be warned, Zinc on an empty stomach can make you very queasy so always take it with food.
As well as being a rich source of antioxidant and vitamin C, (and being delicious!) Elderberry has an anti-viral action in the body and studies have shown that those taking elderberry were less susceptible to cold and flu viruses or had their symptoms reduced and the length of infections significantly shortened. Elderberry syrup is wildly available and is often combined with Zinc.
The humble mushroom. It's wildly under-appreciated for its medicinal properties, granted were not talking button mushrooms, but Reishi, Shitake, Chaga, Cordyceps, and other varieties, all of which have exceptionally high levels of immune modulating Beta-Glucans. Beta-Glucans stimulate the immune system, slow the growth of cancer cells, inhibit tumour metastasis, lower inflammatory responses, boost protective antibody production and for this reason have been used in traditional eastern medicine for over 4000 years.
Magnesium plays a number of important roles in the development and response of both innate and acquired immunity. Magnesium is responsible for maintaining homeostasis and is vital to the health of every system in the body, this is why symptoms of deficiency can be so varied. Low levels will have a negative impact on the functioning of the immune system and the bodies ability to fight off infections.
Adding any or all of the above to your daily health routine will do wonders to strengthen your immune system so that it can keep doing the amazing job it does for you each day.