No Brainer Ways to Boost Your Immunity
Right now with the COVID 19 outbreak, it feels like people are talking about boosting their immunity like it is something new. As if you can supercharge your immune system in a few hours or days.
This reminds me of the way we think about detoxification – as if detoxying is something we do every spring or as part of our New Year’s resolution.
The truth is our immune system, and our body’s detoxification processes are all part of our everyday living. Every minute of every day our immune system is fighting invaders and our body is eliminating toxins.
If we want to improve specific functions in our body, like the immune system, we need to improve our overall wellness. This means how we live our daily lives and is why it really is pretty simple to boost your immunity. I want to share with you some of my favorite “no brainer” ways to improve your wellness and thus your immunity.
Immune System and Inflammation
Before we talk about what we can do, let’s review a little about how our immune system works. The main function of the immune system is to recognize what is and is not our self, i.e. an invader. About 70% of our immune system is in our digestive system! So the food we eat is very important.
If we eat food which is natural and plant based, our body recognizes the food as similar to us and does not consider it an invader. When we eat junk food, our body sees this food as an invader and sets off an immune response.
When responding to an invader, the body releases an antibody response containing inflammatory molecules like cytokines, interleukins, chemokines, antibodies, and others. The immune system tries to strike a balance between inflammation to fight the invaders and healing. If we are constantly trying to fight invaders, we have an overabundance of inflammation in our body which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression,, auto-immune conditions and more.
How to Reduce Inflammation and Boost the Immune System
Do you want to know how to reduce the inflammation in your body and prevent these chronic diseases?
Want to know how to improve your immune system to have a better balance between healing and inflammation?
Want to make sure your immune system is not overloaded and can efficiently fight the real invaders keeping you healthy?
The way to do all these things is to work on how we live our lives every day. Hopefully we can use this crisis as a wake-up call to focus on our health so we can live our best lives. This involves a lifestyle of healthy eating, stress reduction, and exercise.
1. Eat More Plants
Polyphenols are chemicals found in plant foods which are anti-inflammatory. These chemicals are responsible for the colors of our fruits and vegetables. Eat the rainbow every day. I work with all of my clients to include as many colorful plants in their diets as possible. If you want to start tracking your colors each day, you can sign up for my email list and get a copy of my new health tracker to started.
2. Nurture the “Good Bugs”
Remember 70% of our immune system is in our digestive tract. In our intestines we have a mix of organisms, with some of these microbes “good bugs” being helpful fighters against an invaders in our system. The problem is that we also have “bad bugs” in our intestines and sometimes these outnumber the “good bugs” making it harder for our immune system to function well.
We can balance our microbiome by eating more “good bugs” and creating conditions for them to thrive. Fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut give us “good bugs” or we get can get them by taking a probiotic supplement.
If you are new to probiotics, you may need to increase the probiotic dose slowly to prevent bloating and other digestive symptoms. As the “good bugs” from the probiotics eliminate the “bad bugs” they die off and release chemicals that can aggravate the digestive system. These symptoms should subside after a few days.
It is not enough to just get the “good bugs”, you also have to keep them healthy. You can do this with a healthy diet, including prebiotic foods which will nourish the “good bugs”. Sugar and junk food will feed the “bad bugs” and make it difficult for the “good bugs” to thrive so these foods need to be eliminated.
One of the best ways to reset the microbiome is to do a short term fast, effectively starving out the “bad bugs”. I use a 5 day fast mimicking diet in my practice with great success. Schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation if you would like to learn more about working together to balance your microbiome.
Lastly, the “good bugs” need to be fed. Prebiotics are what stimulate the growth of the “good bugs”. Prebiotic fiber is found in bananas, garlic, oats, and other plant based foods. So add a few of these foods into your diet to support a balanced microbiome.
Exercise helps improve our overall health, as well as, our immune system functioning. A recent article in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, describes the many different mechanisms for how exercise can boost the immune system.
I know this works for myself, when I get out and run daily, I get far less colds. So you don’t have to run, but just get outside and take a walk. Find ways to move daily. The fresh air and the movement will have you feeling amazing.
4. Yoga and Stress Reduction
Stress of any kind will increase inflammatory cytokines in the body. We can’t always prevent stress, but we can do things to manage it better and bring our body back into peace. We certainly can’t change what is going on in society right now with the coronavirus, but we can choose our emotional response.
Yoga is my favorite way to manage stress. During these difficult times of social distancing, I am offering free online yoga classes to help everyone ease stress and anxiety. Now that you are home more, it is the perfect time to try yoga.
Boost Your Immunity by Boosting Your Wellness
In summary, boosting your immunity really is a no brainer because it is all about boosting your wellness. Eat more colorful plants, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy digestion, and reduce stress. If you would like help creating a step by step wellness plan and support along the way, please reach out and I would love to work together to get you feeling amazing.
Maydych V. (2019). The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Frontiers in neuroscience, 13, 384. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00384
Mazmanian, S., Round, J. & Kasper, D. A microbial symbiosis factor prevents intestinal inflammatory disease. Nature 453, 620–625 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07008
Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the bodys defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 8(3), 201–217. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009