How to Boost Your Immune System
Strategies to support your immune system
Winter is at our doorsteps as well as higher risks of infections. It is, therefore, crucial to have a stronger immune system.
You’ve heard of the term “immunocompromised” individuals with conditions that make it tough for their bodies to fight off infection. But even if you don’t have a diagnosable immune-suppressing condition doesn’t necessarily mean that your immune system is in a good fighting shape. If you experience lots of colds or other infections, often feel tired, or experience uncomfortable symptoms, it could be a sign of a weak immune system.
Here’s what you need to know about the factors that can take a toll on your immune system. As well as, what you can do to bolster your body’s germ-fighting function for the long haul.
How does your immune system work?
So, your immune system aims to protect your body against outside invaders (viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens) and keep you healthy. It is like your own army mobilizing to fight against infection or other invading substances that trigger an immune response.
Our body’s immune defense system has two components i.e. the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.
The first, which we are all are born with, is called innate immunity. Essentially, it is made up of barriers that aim to keep viruses, bacteria, and other foreign particles out of your body. It also limits their ability to spread and move throughout the body.
The second part is called adaptive immunity or “acquired immunity”. As its name suggests, this is a learned defense that is acquired over your lifetime. It is activated by exposure to pathogens and uses an immunological memory to learn about the threat and enhance the immune response accordingly.
What can weaken the immune system?
1) WHITE CELLS
Like in real life, your immune system is very complex. In fact, it requires several components to work together, and sometimes things can go wrong.
Both innate and adaptive immunity need white blood cells, which are like your own bodyguards. They are constantly patrolling and looking for signs of issues. Different types of white blood cells help your body fight off infection. However, when they are not functioning properly then it can leave you susceptible to illness.
If white blood cells overreact to antigens, it can cause worrying levels of inflammation inside your body and lead to chronic conditions. Sometimes the immune system can even attack your own healthy cells. This phenomenon is known as autoimmune diseases (e.g.: Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.)
In other cases, you may have a weak immune system as a result of ageing. This is because our body’s production of white blood cells wanes as you grow older. Finally, it could also be due to an immunodeficiency disorder.
Another dimension that can affect the strength of your immune system is your lifestyle.
Indeed, eating healthy is very important because 70% of our immune system lies in our gut. Consequently, the healthier your microbiome, the stronger your immune system. So, “let the food be thy medicine” and provide your body with the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Of contrast, avoid eating processed foods as they can lead to dysbiosis. An unhealthy diet increases the permeability of the gut lining, which allows toxins to leak out of the gut and into our bloodstream. In turn, this can lead to immune dysfunction.
Furthermore, it is important to have a 360-degree approach to your lifestyle. Not only your diet but also managing stress, exercising, and sleeping well as those dimensions also affect your immune system.
5 Signs of a weak immune system
To understand how strong your immune defenses are, there are lab tests available. Alternatively, you can look out for the following indicators of a weak immune system.
1) If there is a bug going around, you almost always catch it (and it takes time for you to recover).
If you tend to get a lot of colds, flu, and/or you need to take antibiotics several times a year, then this could be a sign that your body’s defenses are weak. Additionally, antibiotics have a detrimental impact on your gut microbiome as they often wipe out not only your bad bacteria but also the good ones. Hence, this leads you to a vicious circle of needing even more pharmaceutical medication year in year out.
Further, the duration it takes to fight off infection can also be related to the health of your immune system. Are you back on your feet relatively quickly or does the infection knocks you out?
2) Frequently feeling waking up tired & “foggy”
If despite long hours of sleep, you still feel tired and foggy when waking up, then this could be related to an underlying immune dysfunction.
3) You experience digestive issues.
As we mentioned before, 70% of our immune system is linked with our gut microbiome. So, if you frequently experience bloating, belly pain, or some food sensitivities then it can be related to dysbiosis and poor immune system function.
4) You often get skin breakouts or rashes.
This is because our skin is the first barrier of defense against germs and other external aggressors (please read more here) and it is an important component of our immune system. Therefore, if you experience eczema or other rashes then those are symptoms of inflammation and can happen when the immune system is compromised.
5) You don’t lose weight even with exercise
There could be several reasons for weight gain and an inability to lose weight. This said they can potentially be associated with inflammation, chronic stress, and poor immune system function. Moreover, it could also be an early sign of autoimmune disease.
7 ways to support your immune system
If you feel you have a weak immune system, if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto or you just want to support your immune system, then there are steps you can take and protocol you can follow.
Working with a health coach and integrative health practitioner like at Nar London can also help you implement immune-supportive strategies that work for you. You are unique and need a tailored approach to support your own health.
1) Eat a healthy diet.
Again, please avoid any processed foods, gluten (especially due to the fact that many products out there are full of Glysophate), preservatives, refined sugar, and dairy as much as you can. Literally, they are impacting detrimentally on your immune system and increase inflammation.
Instead, you should try to incorporate lots of high-quality protein, healthy fats, fermented foods, and fruits and vegetables to support your immune system. We also recommend taking a food intolerance test to better understand the diet you should follow. For a more complete health protocol, you can discuss the benefits of integrative health with us.
2) Use anti-inflammatory herbs & roots
It is important to reduce inflammation in your body and therefore look at including ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, fresh parsley for instance.
3) The importance of sleep.
Having a proper night’s sleep is vital for the development of the adaptive immune system. On the other hand, poor sleep and chronic insomnia can enhance stress hormones and promote inflammation.
4) Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Humans are meant to move and exercise. In fact, hitting the gym, running and other physical activities can help relieve stress, improve your sleep and make your body stronger, which will strengthen your immune system function.
5) Drink in moderation.
Well, drinking alcohol is bad for you. This said, we don’t want to be the “killjoy” here and we understand that we love a glass of champagne or else from time to time. So, try to drink in moderation and break from alcohol for as long as you can. Your body and immune system will thank you for that. The reason is that alcohol impact detrimentally your gut microbiome and can even impair immune cells. Moreover, try to avoid high-sugar drinks like wine at night because it will take longer for your body to metabolize it, and most likely will lead to sleep disruptions.
6) Quit smoking.
There is enough evidence that smoking is bad for you. We understand that it is extremely hard to quit this dreadful habit but do it as it affects negatively not only your immune system but also vital organs.
7) Manage and reduce stress.
In our modern lifestyle, stress is unavoidable but at a healthy dose, stress is not necessarily bad quite the contrary. However, excessive stress will have a negative impact on your mental health and on your immune system. That is why, it is important to do mindful and relaxing exercises such as breathing, meditation or other relaxing activities you enjoy.
Be on top of your health
Ultimately, you need to be on top of your health and make the right decisions that will strengthen your immune system and your overall health. For a start, you can use the tips mentioned in this article. If you would like to go a step ahead and have a better understanding of your own body and how you can take better control of your own health then we suggest you either get one of our lab tests and/or our integrative health offer.