Our immune systems do an incredible job of defending us against unwanted pathogens but sometimes a germ invades and can make us incredibly sick. What if it was possible to prevent these germs from invading? What if we could decrease the chance of germs invading just by eating the right foods, taking certain supplements, or implementing certain lifestyle changes?
To function well, our immune system requires balance and harmony. Eating the right foods, daily exercise, managing stress, ensuring we give our bodies rest and maintaining good gut health. These are some of the fundamentals in ensuring our immune system is strong and ready for anything.
As we head into the midst of winter, the lack of sunshine can cause vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D is vital in helping control infections and reduce inflammation. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, though some foods are fortified with the vitamin. For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement because it is hard to eat enough through food. Vitamin D intravenous treatments are also a great way of administering the vitamin directly into your bloodstream.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, able to support our immune systems and is found in fruits and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, blueberries, mandarins, broccoli, and capsicum. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin meaning it is at risk of being lost in the soils of the ground it grows in. There are many supplements containing vitamin C that may help support your immune system; Beta-AC powder and Armaforce are just two that we stock at Beingwell. Intravenous vitamin C treatment has also been shown to reduce fatigue, reduce duration of cold and flu symptoms and improve overall wellbeing.
The foods we eat will affect how well our immune system can tackle invading pathogens. By providing our bodies with the nutrients it needs, we are also providing fuel to the cells in our bodies.
Our gut plays an important role in immunity, so if this is not functioning properly our immunity will be compromised. Alongside taking a daily probiotic to encourage the growth of good gut flora and boost immunity, eating foods rich in prebiotics helps to feed specific good gut bacteria, while colonic foods support general gut flora.
Try incorporating the following prebiotic-rich foods:
- Chicory or dandelion root
Regular exercise promotes good cardiovascular health, controls body weight, lowers blood pressure and offers protections against pathogens. As exercise improves circulation, our immune cells can move freely around the body and do their job more effectively.
Managing our stress levels throughout the day will help to manage the hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is healthy in small amounts but too much can cause inflammation and result in a weakened immune system. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and other gentle exercise may help in stabilising stress and cortisol levels.
Multiple studies show that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to fall ill after being exposed to a virus. When we sleep, our body releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins are very important in supporting our immune systems and as sleep deprivation increases, the production of cytokines decrease – often resulting in a weakened immune system.
Your immune system is your first port of call in the fight to fend off infection and disease. Keeping it in good condition is important both for individuals and the public at large to stay happy and healthy. With regular sleep, exercise, implementing tools to reduce stress, eating a balanced diet full of prebiotic foods, and staying on top of micronutrient levels – we can give our bodies the best chance of fighting infection and staying healthy.