All About Immune Health
The immune system is the body’s natural defense network. It is comprised of many organs, cells, and proteins that work together to protect against outside viruses, bacteria, and other unwanted invaders.1
When functioning correctly, the immune system identifies which cells are yours and which are foreign. It then organizes to kill any invaders that could cause the body harm. Your immune system does this complex work naturally, but, like anything, it requires a healthy environment in order to thrive. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help bolster your immune system.
A healthy lifestyle is especially important during the colder months since this tends to be when the immune system is the most vulnerable. In the fall and winter, we spend more time indoors in close quarters with others, increasing the spread of viruses. Some viruses tend to live longer in cooler weather and low humidity.
If you want to prepare for winter by supporting your immune system as best you can, keep reading.
Here are five key ways you can keep your immune system functioning properly every day.
Your diet plays a large role in many aspects of your health, including the immune system. Often, people assume that simply eating an orange or taking a vitamin C tablet will prevent the onset of a cold. However, this is not the case. Supporting the immune system means consistently eating a healthy and balanced diet over time. This way, your body is nourished and prepared to fight against invaders when necessary. Your immune system is generally best fed by the vitamins and minerals found in food, but high quality supplements are often beneficial for those who need more robust support or suffer with poor nutrient absorption. We recommend our best seller Foundational Bundle for all your immune system needs!
Immune supporting vitamins, minerals and nutrients to incorporate into your diet include:
A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals will help ensure your immune system works efficiently. Drinking enough water is an important aspect of this, as water carries oxygen to the cells and helps remove toxins from the body.5
Sleep is a crucial aspect of healthy immune functioning. While you are sleeping, your body produces cytokines, which are necessary parts of the immune system that respond to infection, inflammation, and stress. Getting insufficient sleep means your body is less able to produce cytokines, and when a threat appears, your immune system may struggle to ward it off. 6
Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and proper sleep hygiene can help ensure you are reaching this threshold. If you are lacking sleep, try implementing these habits:
When we are under stress, our stress hormones suppress the number of immune cells available to us. A stressful lifestyle can also indirectly harm the immune system if it causes you to drink and smoke for relief.
There are much better, healthier ways you can manage the stress in your life and keep your immune system running in top shape:
Daily movement is not just for strengthening your muscles; it can strengthen your immune system, too!
Studies have found that people who exercise regularly may have fewer cases of infections, and if they do get sick, may experience lessened symptoms and intensity. 8 This is because moderate exercise stimulates the circulation of immune cells in our body.9 When these immune cells are readily available, your body is better equipped to defend against future infection.
Exercise also has the effect of helping lower stress, which is key to a healthy immune system. And, getting a beneficial amount of activity doesn’t have to be a big commitment requiring a gym membership. Taking at least a 30-minute walk every day is enough to keep your immune system functioning properly.9 You can also try:
If you live in a cold climate or don’t have access to a gym, do not fret! There are plenty of at-home yoga or workout classes online that can keep you active.
If you are a smoker or someone who drinks excessively, you are at a much greater risk of getting sick.
Smoking compromises the immune system’s balance, increasing your risk of infection or autoimmune disorders. Alcohol has similar adverse effects on the immune system — it disrupts the pathways that defend against infection.
Heavy drinking also contributes to organ damage and slows down the recovery process after illness or injury.
We recommend quitting smoking and practicing moderation when you drink. For every alcoholic beverage you consume this holiday season, pair it with a glass of water!
Having a healthy lifestyle is vital to having a healthy immune system. It is always best to be proactive with your health, so try some of these tips to ensure your immune system is functioning at its best.
For further help & to discuss a tailored action plan to help keep your body functioning at its best, book a 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Allen
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Posted in Functional Medicine
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