I’m going to give you the facts on how to boost your immune system.
Correction how to MAINTAIN your immune system.
Well did you know that contrary to popular belief you can’t “boost” your immune system?
You can only maintain it……
And here are few other facts:
- We’re not born with an immune system it’s made as we enter the world and evolves with our environment. After 6 to 8 months we start to develop an immune system.
- Our immune system is a whole galaxy of molecules and cells that circulate in our blood, in and out of our lymphatic system, constantly monitoring our body to check if anything may cause an infection.
- There is two arms to the immune system: (1) The innate which is the first line of defence and (2) The adaptive which takes a little bit of time to develop, but is really powerful.
- The immune system is controlled by a whole host of on and off switches and is incredibly complex to explain in my every day blog! Simply though, in the first instance the innate cells which line the surface of our body have receptors on the surface that respond to infections / damage. If it’s a serious infection or damage, the innate cells talk to the adaptive cells circulating in our body and they become activated and create a huge army to fight the infection and move to where they are needed.
- The immune system is developed by our environment and our genes and is unique to an individual. Hence why some people are more robust than others.
- The Major Histocompatibility Complex – the what?? The product of our genes are the receptors that can switch are immune system on. They also have a BIG part to play in our fertility.
I know all of this from recording a podcast with Immunologist (an expert in the immune system) Dr Jenna Macciochi and boy did we go into detail!
You can listen to that podcast by clicking here.
But in this blog post, I’m going to pull the meaty facts and give you The Top 10 Tips for Maintaining Your Immune System.
Here we go:
Lack of sleep reduces the function of our immune cells and in particular the Natural Killer Cells. The natural killer cells go around and kill cells which have got infected with a virus and also kill cells that might have become transformed (becoming cancerous). They act like a security system in our body, going around and killing off anything that looks dodgy.
Therefore make sleep a priority!
Elevated stress hormones such as cortisol can affect the function of our immune cells and therefore (and we know this anyway) it’s really important to keep your stress levels down to a minimum.
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Dr Jenna stated that the current culture of people being sedentary all day and then blasting their body with a HIIT work-out OR generally working out too much (to an athlete’s equivalent) increases susceptibility to getting respiratory infections.
She stressed it’s far better to do a constant low impact exercises, such as walking.
The take home from this is; if you’re working at a desk all day, make sure you get up regularly to walk around.
- AVOID IMMUNE BOOSTING PRODUCTS
There is no evidence at this stage to prove that anything “boosts” your immune system, therefore SAVE YOUR MONEY!
She said our immune system us always producing new immune cells and the old one are dying and we’ve always got this constant flow of new so unless specifically directed by a health professional to buy something, save your money.
We need to be eating plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables because they contain lots of antioxidants and polyphenols.
Antioxidants help because the inflammatory pathways that the immune system use to operate, produce oxidation and the antioxidants help by counteracting the effects of this process.
Also, colourful fruit and veg contain polyphenols which are a big group of chemicals that have really powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Lifestyle related diseases such as metabolic, cardiovascular and diabetes cause low-grade inflammation which seems to be at the core of what’s causing all the symptoms. Polyphenols are being investigated as a way of dampening the inflammation.
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Fibre is so important for our immune system and not many people seem to know this.
When we eat a meal, we get a leaky gut which causes transient inflammation, which contrary to popular belief is a NORMAL physiological response to a meal to allow the goodness we need to get into our system.
When we eat fibre, the fibre is broken down by good bacteria and releases short chain fatty acids which then seal the gut again.
Therefore, reducing any potential (more permanent) inflammation.
Good sources of fibre are fruit, vegetable, whole grains, nuts, pulses and seeds.
- SUFFICIENT BREAK BETWEEN MEALS
Linked to the above point, if you’re eating regularly, then the transient inflammation is going to be more frequent.
However, if you allow yourself a sufficient break between meals, then it allows your body to counteract the inflammation and reseal.
If you don’t have sufficient breaks, then your body is going to become inflamed.
Dr Jenna went on to explain that intermittent fasting is good for the body and it’s good to try and give your digestive system 12 hours break over night to restore itself.
- EAT PROBIOTICS AND PRE-BIOTICS FOODS
Our immune systems need good bacteria to work properly and therefore it’s important to maintain a healthy microbiome by way of nutrition, not by supplementation.
Although probiotics have their place, they are only worth using if know exactly which good bacteria you’re low on (there are millions btw) otherwise it’s a total waste of time.
Good foods to eat that are natural probiotics are fruit, green leafy vegetables and legumes.
- GARLIC AND MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS
Garlic is antibacterial and a brilliant immune system maintainer. The antibacterial agents are released when you chop or crush the garlic up.
Mushrooms (shitake, maitake, cordyceps) have something called Beta-glucans and various other things that are potent immunomodulators. Get as many as you can into your diet.
MAGNESIUM SALTS AND MAGNESIUM OIL
Bathe in magnesium salts or otherwise known as epsom salts and rub magnesium oil onto your body before bed to help you sleep and prevent muscle pain.
Dr Jenna said that generally, magnesium is a salt that supports LOADS of bio-chemical processes in our body therefore use it!
She recommended a company called Better You for magnesium oil.
As you can see, there is theme running through this blog post, the importance of your DIET and nutrition.
If you’re going to try and improve your health, it’s best to start with your diet.
I hope this helped you.
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