Want to boost your immune system, and that of your family, all year? Did you answer ‘yes’? It’s quite easy really. Read on…
Your immune system is a sophisticated whole-body network that protects you against external pathogens. However, we all live in a world where super-bugs and toxins challenge our immune systems in unexpected and continually evolving ways, so it’s increasingly important that we take charge and learn how to optimise our bodies’ immunity year round. How do you boost your immune system?
Diet plays a large role, as do exercise, lifestyle changes and supplementation (the last especially when your immune system is already weakened by a chronic health condition, a long-term stressful lifestyle or bad diet). Strong immune function is about more than simply preventing winter colds and flu. To enjoy optimal health, it needs to be in peak condition throughout the year.
Follow these 10 simple steps to boost your immune system naturally and keep it in the best shape possible, all the time…
You know what lymph nodes are – well, you’re aware when the ones in your neck or groin or armpit are swollen. But do you really know what they do? They’re part of your lymphatic system, the complex drainage network that helps your body get rid of toxins, waste and other unwanted matter. The rest of the system? The spleen (on the left side of the body just above the kidney), thymus gland (above your heart) and lymph vessels. Together, this heroic team battles infections and absorbs excess fluids, fats and toxic waste material from your entire body.
When your lymphatic system goes wrong
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. When bacteria enter the lymph fluid, the lymph nodes produce more infection-fighting white blood cells, which can cause swelling – that’s when you feel those swollen nodes in the neck, underarms and groin.
A lack of exercise, iodine deficiency, illness or digestive imbalances can clog the lymphatic system and cause health issues and diseases.
- Be vigilant about germs. Viruses spread quickly, especially in shared environments, so wash your hands and nose/mouth area in hot soapy water, if you can, or use anti-bacterial wipes or spray (which are also good for cleaning shared surfaces such as bathroom vanity units).
- Follow a simple, healthy diet. The immune system starts in the gut, so eating well is vital. Improve gut bacteria by eating yoghurt with live cultures, healthy organic foods including herbs and spices that boost your immune system – brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, salmon, sardines, turmeric, garlic, ginger, parsley, mint, coriander, black pepper and chillies are good examples. We’ve discussed the topic of eating to boost your immune system and those of your family in a number of previous blogs, so you’ll find more useful information at Boost your child’s immunity: a lunchbox guide and 10 Foods to boost your immune system.
- Drink lots of water. Viruses find it easier to attack your immune system if you are dehydrated and your cells can’t absorb the nutrients you’ve consumed. Sip water throughout the day.
- Pass the sugar. Numerous studies suggest that sugar has a bad effect on the immune system. Avoid both sugar and carbohydrates, which convert to sugar in the body, when you’re fighting off a virus. Fresh fruits and vegetables are fine, though, as the sugars they contain are natural and help to boost your immune system.
- Vitamin C enhances immunity. Include vitamin C-rich foods in with your three meals and two snacks every day. Eat citrus fruits, guavas, carrots, apples and celery – juiced or plain.
- Blow your nose often, even when you don’t need to. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Airborne viruses can lodge in the nasal passages and blowing your nose gets rid of them before they do any harm.
- Warm up. When you get a virus your body temperature usually drops, so you need to get warm to activate the immune response. Dress warmly or have a hot drink to boost your immune system naturally.
- Get plenty of sleep. Our bodies and cells rejuvenate when we sleep, so if you don’t get adequate rest, you weaken your immune system. If you have difficulty sleeping, read our blog Can’t sleep? Insomnia and how to overcome it naturally.
- Get some exercise. Although it’s not known exactly how exercise increases your immunity to certain illnesses, it appears that moderate physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, makes the body’s immune system cells circulate more rapidly and detect illnesses more quickly, and slows down the release of stress-related hormones, which compromise immune health. In short, exercise can boost your immune system and make you feel good.
- Take supplements to support your immune system all year, especially when you’re subjected to everyday stress and don’t eat properly. Flora Force Immune™ capsules are an excellent general immune system strengthener that can be taken safely by all members of your family. The formula contains echinacea, which strengthens the immune system and supports the body’s response to respiratory tract problems; mistletoe and myrrh, which stimulate immune activity; and olive leaf extract, which modulates the immune system. Flora Force Echi-Mune™ is a tincture that also helps to boost your immune system and is especially useful as a preventative and treatment with other indicated remedies during the cold and flu-season for quick recovery.