Right now, we’re probably all thinking about our immune systems and wanting to give it as much support as possible. But what is our immune system and what can we do to keep it healthy?
The immune system, made up of a complex network of cells and proteins, defends your body against infection. It memorises every germ it has ever defeated so that it can recognise it and destroy it if it enters the body again.
Our immune systems can become unbalanced by smoking, alcohol, lack of adequate nutrition, stress, fatigue, old age, some medications and from illness. With the COVID19 pandemic, people have become sicker because the immune system has “boosted” too far, the cytokine storm. Autoimmunity is also another example of an over active immune system and we need the immune system to switch on when we need it but we want it to switch off again too.
6 Tips to Keep Your Immune System Healthy
There are lots of things that we can do to keep our immune systems healthy:
- Avoid smoking.
Smoking packs a double whammy to our immune system by depleting vitamins and minerals and increasing free radicals in the body, leading to oxidative stress. It’s like leaving the front door open to disease and infection.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
Alcohol blocks the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. It seems that drinking alcohol may also damage the immune cells that line the intestines making it easier for pathogens to cross into your bloodstream.
- Reduce Stress.
We can’t always avoid stress but there are lots of things that we can do to manage it. If you missed my article on top tips for reducing stress, you can read it here
- Massage and acupuncture treatments.
We know that massage helps to relax the muscles and reduce cortisol levels in the body and that acupuncture has a powerful effect on the central nervous system, releasing hormones which lower blood pressure and relieve pain, all contributing to lower stress levels in the body. Some small studies have also shown massage to increase levels of T Cells, a vital part of a healthy immune system.
During sleep, our immune system releases cytokines, Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, so sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective immune system warriors.
- Good nutrition.
You are what you eat. Just like any army, the immune system defence marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system defenders need good, regular nourishment.
Tips from a Nutritional Therapist
We spoke to Lisa Kaey, a nutritional therapist, who runs Nourish By Lisa, who advised us on easy ways to help your immune system by aiming for a balanced diet.
What does a balanced diet mean?
A balanced diet means protein, healthy fats, good quality carbohydrates and fibre rich fruit and vegetables, at least 5 a day. Be supplement savvy, if you feel your diet may be lacking in specific nutrients, seek professional advice. A variety of supplements can support and optimise immune health:
- Vitamin c & D
Vitamin C and Vitamin D have immune qualities and both have gained importance during the COVID pandemic. Public Health England advise taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily. I can test vitamin D levels to ensure an optimal range.
Stress from the year that we have had and the lead up to Christmas may have depleted your magnesium level. Magnesium rich foods to replenish your levels include dark green leafy vegetables such as; spinach, kale, rocket, swiss chard, nuts and seeds. Magnesium is known as “nature’s tranquilliser” and supplementation with this may just help you feel that bit more relaxed.”
How is the Gut Linked to Immunity?
“The health of your gut has a huge impact on your immunity. To have good gut health, we need diversity in what we eat. This means lots of different coloured fruit and vegetables. Factors that can deplete this gut diversity are alcohol, antibiotics, unvaried poor-quality foods, illness and stress.”
What can you do if you don’t like vegetables?
“You could try Microgreens! These vegetable greens, harvested just after they’ve sprouted are packed with nutrients and can be sprinkled on foods. You can order micro greens at places like Lightfoot’s Farm.”
Lisa Keay BSc (Hons) Dip NT.
About Lisa Keay – I have always been interested in health and nutrition, influenced by my mum. I qualified as a children’s nurse and then as a health visitor however I was always curious about nutrition which led me to qualifying as a nutritional therapist. The primary focus of nutritional therapy is ‘Food as Medicine’. It is not all about looking to lose weight. I can help with various health concerns so please do call me for a friendly free 20-minute chat to discuss your concerns and health goals.
Nourish by Lisa contact on 07821 139585 or email Lisa_keay@hotmail.co.uk
Ideally we should get all of our nutrients from food, but where that isn’t possible, we can look to vitamin and mineral supplements to support our intake. At The Active Healthcare Practice, we stock the Lamberts Healthcare Professional range of vitamin & mineral supplements.
Ask me about it next time you’re in, or send me an email. You can also book a free consultation with Lisa, her contact details are above.
To book your immune supporting massage at The Active Healthcare Practice or to find out more about our Lamberts Healthcare range of vitamins and minerals, send me a message or call me on 07584503767
About the author:
Julia Cuttelle is Founder of The Active Healthcare Practice. She had sustained a back injury in 2014 and found that, whilst a range of therapies helped get her back on her feet again, she was unable to find one practitioner who could provide a broad range of therapies alongside rehabilitation.
Hence Julia established the Active Healthcare Practice to fill that gap, providing a unique blend of treatments. She holds a level 4 ITEC diploma in Sports Massage therapy, alongside a Level 4 Personal Training and Exercise Referral specialist qualification. She holds the renowned OMT Diploma in Osteopathic Articulation and is a certified OMT Osteopathic Advanced Spinal and Peripheral Manipulation and OMT Medical Acupuncture practitioner.