If there has ever been a time to keep your immune system strong, now is the time!
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Saying that, keeping your immune system strong is always important, not just because we are in a pandemic!
There are many lifestyle, dietary, exercise and relaxation techniques and hacks that can be integrated into a daily schedule, that not only boost immunity but also make us feel clearer, more focused, more positive and able to deal with stressful events.
When we are stressed, the body releases cortisol. Too much cortisol in the blood leads to inflammation in the body, and inflammation eventually can lead to disease. Furthermore, stress reduces the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells that help fight infection) and over-stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – the fight or flight response – depleting energy from the body’s other systems. Therefore, sustained stress lowers immunity. Stress is inevitable, and the right amount is healthy, but chronic stress is damaging to the immune system. So finding ways to reduce stress is key for health and vitality.
Tips to increase immunity:
- Meditation or Mindfulness practice. When we meditate we can significantly help to break the immune suppressing effect that stress causes. Dedicating time to practice breath awareness and other meditation techniques reduces stress, elicits the relaxation response and increases energy and concentration. The immune system loves it! It also helps us listen to what is most needed e.g. more rest, more movement, more company, less caffeine etc.
- Physical exercise, and/or a yoga practice increases blood, lymph and immune cells flow and circulation.
- A low sugar diet sugar, as sugar strips the body of vital minerals and vitamins.
- Vitamins. Take a Vitamin D supplement, Vitamin C supplement and probiotics to boost immunity and gut health.
- Sleep: getting adequate good quality sleep is essential. Poor sleep can negatively influence the nervous and immune systems. Limit screen use, especially before bed as that can interfere with sleep.
- Intermittent fasting: this involves not eating for 14 – 17 hours when possible. Fasting has been shown to optimize the process of autophagy, which essentially means that our body can repair and regenerate itself more efficiently and fight off harmful viruses and infections.
- Infra-red saunas increase white cell production therefore triggering the immune response.
- Cold showers and dry brushing (if you are brave enough!). They stimulate the lymphatic system – the bodies first line of defence that transports. lymphocytes and antibodies. Or you can just alternate hot and cold to start with!
- Laughter: studies have shown that white cell production is increased when we laugh, so when we are stressed try bringing some lightness and laughter to the situation. Avoid reading too much negative news, instead give yourself some time to listen or watch something funny!
- Gratitude: low immunity is correlated to depression, so staying hopeful and feeling inspired is essential to maintaining a strong immune system. Listing three things that we can be grateful for before going to sleep e.g. family, friends, health, food on the table, etc.
As well as specific lifestyle changes, when we feel ourselves getting ill, become aware of what may have caused it, more than likely it was initiated by the stress response.
Perhaps after trying some of the techniques above, your symptoms are alleviated or better still prevented!