As we head into fall and the days grow shorter and cooler, I thought it might be nice to focus some attention on different ways we can support our immune system. Many of us get sick around this time of year as we all begin to host more indoor gatherings, head back to school or send our kids back to school, and begin to feel some holiday stress sink in. We can't completely avoid getting sick, but we can do a lot to help our body avoid many pathogens and to help it fight them off faster when we can't.
So I thought I'd do a series of blog posts focusing on the immune system, different lifestyle choices and practices that can help boost it for when pathogens do make their way to us, recipes to help us eat well for preventative care, yoga poses and breath work for stress relief and more. I hope you find this information helpful and if there is anything specific you would like to hear about regarding immune support, please comment below!
Today we'll be looking at some small changes you can make in your day to day life to support the immune system.
Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that the activity of certain immune cells increases as we sleep at night? So getting a good nights rest can lead to a better equip immune system. Sleep unfortunately doesn't come so easy for all of us however. Here are some sleep practices that might help you get more sleep and better quality sleep:
- avoid caffeine in the evening
-sleep in a cold, dark room
- try to wake at the same time every day
- enjoy relaxing activities before bed (gentle yoga poses, a hot bath, sip some tea, etc)
Maintain A Healthy Functioning Lymphatic System
Our lymphatic systems play a huge role in our immune system. The lymph system is a transporter of white blood cells (T-cells and B-cells in particular) which help fight off pathogens when they enter the body. A slow lymphatic system can often lead to a slow immune response. Here are some things you can do to help your lymphatic system flow smoothly:
- regular exercise (our lymphatic systems rely on muscle contraction to help move fluid)
- dry brushing (most of our lymphtic system lies just below the skin)
- deep breathing exercises
- drink plently of water
- manual lymphatic drainage therapy (you can book a session on our website)
Make Time To De-Stress
Chronic stress can often lead to a weakened immune system. When cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland) production is elevated in our bodies, our white blood cell production rate decreases. Overactive adrenal glands can also deplete our bodies of B and C vitamins. Stress can also affect the digestive system and over time can affect nutrient absorption.
Stress relief can look a little different for everyone. It is important to take breaks from anything in your life that brings you stress. Turn off your phone for a few hours a day, take weekends off of social media, make time for alone time, etc. In addition to taking time away from our stressors, it is important to rid the body of any stress we are holding on to. This can often be done through movement - different kinds of movement work better for different people (maybe dancing, a slow yoga class, a more strenuous workout, a run or a swim), meditation, getting a massage, soaking in a bath, or any activity that is joyful and reduces stress for you (cooking, reading a book, etc.). Taking some time to be mindful and take notice of what helps you let go of stress and making time for it everyday can do so much for your well being.
Maintain A Healthy Digestive System
A healthy gut can also help protect us against pathogens. There is so much information out there on what to eat and how much to eat and so on and I will share some recipes to help boost your immune system later. For now we'll focus on how we are eating with some healthy eating habits that can help make any meal beneficial to your body.
- eat in a relaxed state (make time to sit down and enjoy each meal instead of rushing through)
- dring water separate from meals
- take time to properly chew each bite of food
-eat a large diversity of foods for a large diversity of nutrients
- eat meals and snacks around the same time every day
These are just a handful of ideas to help you begin to build up your immunity. These immune boosting practices are great preventative care that will not only begin to strengthen your immune response but can also help in other areas of life.
If you have any questions or would like to share any of your own immune boosting practices, feel free to share in the comments below.