The human body is incredibly amazing, intricate and fascinating. It is also vastly complex and possibly something we take for granted at times. During times when things start to go wrong, we may start to wonder how to boost the immune system to help maintain our wellbeing.
Our immune system is definitely an incredibly complex system within the body. It assist with protecting pathogens from entering the body and destroying them to the best of its ability. The immune system consists of a variety of specialized cells located in the skin, airways, gastrointestinal tract, blood and also utilizes the lymphatic system, spleen, tonsils and thymus. Immune cells are created in the bone marrow and are then transported to other areas of the body.
So, what can we do to boost the health of the immune system?
The immune system can be impacted by a number of different factors. Some are genetic, however many areas can be improved upon by the choices we make. Below are various ways to enhance your immunity and maintain health and wellbeing
The body recovers, rebuilds and repairs during times of rest. Sleep is an essential process and when much healing takes place. To have a healthy immune system it is recommended to have around 8 hours of sleep per day.
Exercise is beneficial to the body and mind. It has a host of health benefits to all areas of health however assists immunity by flushing bacteria out of the lungs, assist changes in antibodies and white blood cells, reduces the release of stress hormone and potentially prevents the growth of bacteria due to increased body temperature. Moderate exercise can also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. However, excessive exercise on a regular basis can impact the immune system especially if many of the other factors are not being implemented as well.
Stress can impact our lives in many ways and can be extremely toxic to the immune system. High levels of stress impact the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens and increases the risk of illness and disease. This is due to the increase in cortisol that causes a decrease in the number of lymphocytes in the body. Managing stress levels via mindset techniques, meditation, healthy food, suitable exercise and adequate sleep can be beneficial to immunity.
Excessively being overweight or underweight impacts the immune response in the body. In individuals who are overweight, generally the level of inflammation in the body is higher. This adds extra work to the immune system. In underweight individuals there is the potential to be under-nourished and lacking specific nutrients that are required by the immune system. This may not be the case for naturally slim people, but a possibility if the person is exercising excessively and following a strict calorie reduced diet. Having a healthy weight improves the ability for the body to function optimally.
The microbiome is bacteria that lives within the body and is beneficial to health and wellbeing. Having a healthy amount of ‘good’ bacteria assist with immune health and the ability to resist illness and disease. The microbiome is maintained by eating quality foods that support and provide nutrition to the microbes within the body. Excessive amounts of processed foods, alcohol, smoking, increased age and use of antibiotics can all impact the health of the microbiome and allow unhealthy bacteria to take over.
Nutrition is definitely a powerful tool we have to either enhance or compromise our immunity. The body requires specific nutrients each and every day in order to perform optimally. When it comes to assisting the immune system some essential nutrients are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron and specific amino acids.
In times of illness or when the body is guarding against pathogens, extra volumes of nutrition and energy are often required also to allow the immune system to function to its full potential. Having a healthy balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and quality protein can benefit immune response. Personally, I choose to supplement my nutrition along with a healthy diet to ensure I fill any gaps where I may be lacking.
My story of ill health
I am passionate about teaching people about the benefits of health, as I experienced first hand the impacts of not following my above advice. It wasn’t fun either!
I was training heavy weights 6 times a week, working as a personal trainer at a local gym. I also had 2 young daughters and was eating lean to ‘look’ the part. To add to this I decided to do my Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology. For awhile all was great…..
Then, I started to notice I would get tired easily, but I brushed it off and kept going. The colds and flu’s started to creep in continually and I was always sick and having to take time off. Along with this I had to have surgery. From here I spiraled downhill into a burnt out mess, unable to really function.
I spent a lot of time having to rebuild my health – physically, mentally and emotionally. The journey is still continuing but my overall health is now more balanced than in the past.
I truly value and embrace my health now with no extremes in any area if I can manage it. Supplementing my diet with great nutrition was one of my key starting points to help my body heal. This gave me the energy to mentally work through my mind and emotions. You can read more about what I use here
Our immune health is a key factor to our future health. Following the above strategies can assist with long term overall health and wellbeing.