Let’s take a look at immune support, particularly as we move into the colder months.
The immune system is an intelligent and dynamic network of cells, tissues and organs that together defend the body against attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. There are two branches of the immune system: The innate and the adaptive.
The innate immune system includes physical barriers such as skin, the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract; defence mechanisms including saliva, mucus, bile, gastric acid, tears and sweat; and immune responses such as fever and inflammation. This part of the immune system will offer defence against anything it deems foreign. The response is fast i.e. hours.
The adaptive immune system includes B cells and T cells and offers a highly specific response against identified pathogens. The response is slow i.e. days.
Your immune system needs support for optimal function. This includes ensuring that you are getting specific nutrients, adequate regular exercise, good quality sleep and connection with nature and community. Just as you might ensure the best conditions for planting a seed for it to flourish, you can lay the foundations for a strong immune system.
Signs of Low Immunity
If your immune system is not functioning at its best, you may experience any of the following:
- Frequent infections that can become severe, last longer than usual, or become hard to treat.
- More than 2 or 3 colds a year.
- Slow wound healing with increased risk of infection.
- Digestive issues such as diarrhoea, constipation or flatulence.
- Constant fatigue despite adequate rest.
Immune Support Diet Tips
- Eat a rainbow of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit daily to supply a broad range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients for a healthy immune system. Aim for 7-10 fist-sized portions.
- Hydrate yourself well with filtered water and herbal teas. Aim for 2 litres a day.
- Protein with every meal is essential for tissue repair, to fight off infections and to make immune cells and antibodies.
- Omega 3 rich foods support immune balance: Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oil (not for cooking).
- Reduce refined and processed foods, alcohol and caffeine.
Immune Support Lifestyle Tips
- Good quality sleep allows the immune system to target infections and inflammation.
- Moderate regular exercise increases circulation, reduces stress levels and increases the production of infection- fighting immune cells and antibodies.
- Reducing stress minimises the negative impact on natural defences. Consider nature, yoga, T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, mindfulness and breathing practices.