Our immune system is working every day to keep us safe and maintaining it is important for our health. We cannot always control what we are exposed to however we can control how effective our immune system is working. Here are some tips to keep your immune system boosted:
Diet – Our immune system requires nutrient-dense foods in order to function well. We have more toxic, processed and sugar-laden food available to us now than ever before. Consuming these foods regularly along with poor nutrition can compromise your immune function. Aim to revert back to the kind of foods that we were meant to eat, foods that don’t have an ingredients list like: fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, spices, fish and organic grass-fed meat. Finding balance between life and food can be tough, so start small but when you can introduce these colourful foods into your diet, you will get more of the micronutrients needed for proper immune function and the more veggies you eat, the more you might start to crave them.
Hydration – We need to consume enough water every day to stay healthy and maintain the functions of every system in our body, such as carrying oxygen and delivering nutrients to our body’s cells. Our body needs water to remove toxins from the body and to prevent toxins from building up, which can have a negative impact on your immune system. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water per day, this can include herbal teas.
Stress –Stress and fear shut down the immune system, if you are living with anxiety and stress 24/7, you are inhibiting your immune system every day. Our perception of pressure and urgency cause us to make stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. Stress hormones make the heart pound and breathing quicken and our muscles tense as the blood flows away from our digestive system towards our extremities to enable us to get away quickly. These reactions to stress that we experience are also known as our “fight-or-flight” response which evolved as a survival mechanism to enable us to react quickly to life-threatening situations. However nowadays we are not actually dealing with life threatening situations but our job, financial situation or family life can cause us to get stressed.
The great thing science currently recommends that will get us out of that is to extend the length of our exhalation. If we can become breath aware and diaphragmatically breathe this can really slow our breathing down, then your body gets the message from your nervous system that it’s safe. Breathe in through your nostrils, with the inhalation your tummy starts to stick out, then there is a gentle pause at the end of that inhalation, then you slowly exhale, again through your nostrils and your tummy comes back in towards your spine. Remember to do this when you are feeling stressed throughout your day. Ideally start your day with diaphragmatic breathing or relaxing movements such as Tai Chi, Meditation, Yoga or Pilates exercise.
Sleep – When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your immune system won’t be able to function properly. Research has found that those who were getting fewer than six hours sleep a night were more likely to get a cold than adults who slept more than seven hours. So to get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier, aim to go to bed at 10pm at least 4-5 days each week. And aim to get seven to eight hours a night. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allow the mind to rest is also very helpful!
Movement – Whatever exercise you enjoy whether it’s dancing, running, yoga, or anything else it all helps to get the blood flowing in your body. Not only that, exercise releases endorphins (happy chemicals) which can help you to feel better, relieve feelings of stress and allow you to sleep better, which all help to keep your immune system strong. Exercise also plays an important role in pumping lymph fluid by inducing deep breathing and muscle contraction. This is like a pump for lymph fluid around the body where it collects unwanted materials such as toxins and waste to allow for removal from the body.
Our immune system is connected to our lifestyle, exercise, our diet and even our thoughts and beliefs.
Article by Ann Slevin nurturetoblossom.com