Immune health is important during the winter months to help protect you from the cold and flu but its also important to support all year round for general health and disease prevention.
We are constantly exposed to things that may be impacting our immune system but we need a strong immune system to protect us from pathogens, foreign substances and viruses. We are exposed to different pathogens through breathing, ingesting or touching.
Our immune system is also directly tied to allergic responses ranging from food allergies and sensitivities to environmental substances like dust and mold. This can cause digestive upset or more obvious reactions on the skin.
Then there are whats called autoimmune diseases which is when your immune system attacks your own tissues and cells. Autoimmune diseases include MS, overactive/underactive thyroid, arthritis, lupus and more.
In the case of these allergic reactions and autoimmune conditions our immune system way be overreacting but its important that you're immune system is also not underactive because this can lead to serious diseases, infections, tumours, etc. Essentially, in the case of an underactive immune system, your immune system may be reacting slowly, could be from medications or a genetic predisposition.
As you can tell our immune and lymphatic system is quite complex and plays an important in our short term health (colds/flus), our long term health through disease prevention, and for some their every day health in dealing with allergies and autoimmune conditions.
So how do you support immune health?
Lets take a step back and think about how we can support your immune/lymphatic system as a whole:
Dry skin brushing - something that has been gaining popularity lately for multiple reasons but some claim its great for helping stimulate the lymphatic system.
Drink lots of water - staying hydrated is always key to flushing out toxins, keeping things moving and staying energized.
Green tea - powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals in the body.
Reduce stress - increased cortisol levels have been linked to decreased immune function. Ever get a cold have a super busy spell at work or after exam season?
Support your gut health - close to 80% of your immune system is in your intestines! This group of lympathic cells is also known as the Peyer's Patches. You may have learned about this in school but essentially what it does is protect the mucous membranes in our small intestines by releasing B-cells and T-cells - pretty cool eh?! Poor gut health can also lead to decreased nutrient absorption, increased inflammation and constipation meaning toxic waste is inside your body for longer. Taking a probiotic and eating fermented foods is a good way to support gut health. Some individuals may be experiencing intestinal permeability or better known as leaky guy and therefore may need to look at removing certain foods and repairing the lining of their intestinal tract and
Vitamin C - protects against free radicals. Top sources include red bell peppers, oranges and kale!
Eat healthy - this is obvious but we need a diet that contains a variety of nutrients to fight free radicals in our body and keep every other system working properly.
Incorporate herbs - herbs and spices have been used for centuries by many cultures to support health. Some of the top ones linked to immune health are echinacea, ginger, garlic, oregano, licorice root and more! Try them in tea form or all them to meals
Exercise regularly but not too much - exercise is important to our overall health but over exercising can actually put stress on our immune system
Medicinal mushrooms - these have been used for centuries in Asian culture and are gaining more recognition today. They contain antioxidants and increase natural killer cells, decrease inflammation, contain B vitamins, some contain vitamin D and have been known to reduce cortisol levels. Remember - high cortisol levels are not good for our immune system! An easy way to incorporate them is in powdered form added to smoothies, teas and coffees.
Bone broth - contains beneficial nutrients like glutamine, glycine, collagen and proline that support liver detoxification, gastrointestinal health, and studies are looking at how it benefits flighting colds and flus.
In good health,
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