Looking after your health by supporting your immune system

Looking after your health by supporting your immune system

How you can support your body’s natural defence to stay healthy.

Looking after your health by supporting your immune system

Our immune system plays a huge part in our overall health and wellbeing. It is an intricate network of cells working together to identify, isolate and attack invading pathogens to help keep us healthy. When working well, the immune system is our frontline defence against viruses, bacteria, toxins and other harmful micro-organisms.

It is not uncommon for people to come down with flu or the common cold around the time when seasons change. However the temperature changes are not necessarily the direct cause of this. These shifts in temperature permit certain viruses, such as the rhinovirus and coronavirus, to flourish and could cause issues to those, whose immune system is not strong enough to fight them off. In this article we suggest some ways to support your immune system, helping you to stay healthy.

Get enough good quality sleep

Sleep is a naturally recurring state of the body and mind, vital to our survival. We know that it has a restorative and regenerative function, and we feel refreshed after we have slept well. During the night time hours our immune system continues to search and destroy any harmful elements, as well as being restored. Therefore, if sleep is cut short it can affect our immune system’s ability to heal. Creating a healthy bed time routine by minimising the amount of screen time, caffeine and other stimulants, and giving yourself time to unwind before going to bed can make a huge difference on the quality of your sleep. To learn some more useful tips on how to improve your sleep follow this link.

Manage stressefficiently

Research shows that moderate amount of stress has powerful benefits. It can help us overcome obstacles, increase our focus, boost our motivation and can aid our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. However, excessive amount of stress that stays around for weeks or longer weakens the immune system, and can lead to serious physical and mental health issues.

Luckily there are plenty of simple things you can do to ease the pressure and relieve stress:

If you would like to read more on what other simple but powerful tools are available to you to help managing stress and feel a bit lighter, have a look at this article.

Exercise and spend some time in nature

It is proven that moderate exercise have a beneficial effect on the immune system, which in turn could protect you against various infections. Physical activity stimulates the lymphatic system, a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxin. Its main role is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body, allowing our immune system to function more effectively, keeping bacteria and viruses at bay.

Spending some time outdoors and getting some sunshine will provide you with some much needed vitamin D, which is a key player in maintaining a healthy immune system. If you found yourself stuck in your home and don’t have a garden or balcony, find the sunny side of your apartment, and enjoy the sun rays from your window.

There are plenty of online and streamed exercise classes that you can join, even from the comfort of your own home. If you fancy developing your own yoga practice check out this article.

In addition to supporting your immune system, both exercise and sunlight stimulates the production of various brain chemicals, such as endorphins, giving you more energy and a natural boost in your mood.

Healthy nutrition and enough water

Our bodies are naturally equipped with a complex and powerful immune system to fend off disease. However, our immune system and consequently our health can be compromised by certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol and consuming foods which are processed and/or high in sugar.

Healthy nutrition is essential to maintain a strong immune system, which may offer protection from cold and flu viruses and other health problems. Key nutrients and natural remedies can bolster defences to keep the immune system in peak form, and by supporting gut health, they also reduce the risk of intolerances to certain foods. But in the meantime, it is important to remember that no single “superfood”, a particular nutrient or a supplement alone can strengthen your immune system and fight off disease.

Erica Vtoraja, BSc (Hons) in Human Nutrition, nutritional consultant at Paar says: “The idea of boosting our immunity with a huge dose of vitamin C, lemon or garlic is attractive, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires consistent balance and harmony, which could only be attained by optimal lifestyle, including a combination of healthy nutrition as well as exercise, good sleeping habits and effective stress management. Instead of relying on supplements, a varied, whole food, unprocessed diet, mainly based on fruits and vegetables of many colours, healthy fats and lean or plant proteins should become the main focus.”

Ensuring your diet provides a variety of micronutrients helps to limit inflammation and optimize immunity. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), such as A,C, D and E, B group, beta carotene and minerals – including zinc, iron and selenium – play an essential role in the functioning of the immune system. Here is what Erica suggests in order to provide these vitamins and minerals for our bodies:

Strengthening your immune system by incorporating all (or even some) of the above into your routine means that you will have a better natural armour against viruses, bacteria, toxins and other harmful elements. Try it for yourself and let us know how you get on!

Veronika Pongracz

Veronika Pongracz

Veronika is the head of our Wellbeing team at Inhabit. She is a certified yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher, as well as sound therapist, offering a range of classes and workshops to individuals and groups.