Immune Health

In Blog, Health, Lifestyle by Wendy Christien

Most of us cannot afford “down time”. Missing work or school or re-arranging schedules is inconvenient, to say the least.

The immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances

We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or that inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead to disease is decided by the integrity of our body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system. When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions

The idea of boosting our immune function is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons.

This is because the immune system is a system, not a single entity.

To function well, it requires balance and harmony, but there are still many unknowns when it comes to the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response.

Diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors affect the immune response, so it is always helpful to implement healthy strategies to give your immune system the best chance.

A healthy lifestyle gives your body the best chance of being able to fight off immune insults. Healthy strategies include:

• Avoid smoking
• Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in
unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates.
• Exercise regularly. Make the most of dry winter days and spend
time outdoors.
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Control your blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and cooking
meats thoroughly.
• Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables and drink at least 8 –
10 glasses of water per day.

Micronutrient deficiencies can also lower immune function. Micronutrients are obtained from a varied and balanced diet. If your diet is not as varied as it should be, then supplementing with a multi vitamin / multi mineral supplement could be a good idea.

The mind body connection is also important when looking at immune function. Many physical ailments are linked to the effects of emotional stress. Stress can be difficult to define as it varies from person to person, but chronic stress can have a negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Too much stress on an ongoing basis weakens the immune function and can make someone more susceptible to picking up a variety of infections.

During cold weather, people tend to stay inside more often. This means that they are not being exposed to as much sunlight so therefore can become deficient in vitamin D. When we get sufficient levels of vitamin D, our immune system’s killer cells, or T-cells, can react to invaders and protect us from serious infections. Low levels of vitamin D not only lead to a weakened immune system but can even be the culprit for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter blues.