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7 Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System

What The Mainstream Media Isn’t Telling You About Your Immune Health..

I believe this may be the most important blog I have written so far as it addresses the current lockdown situation and its effects on your immunity and overall health and wellbeing. The mainstream media have failed to educate and address natural ways to help strengthen your immune system and prepare you for when coming out of lockdown after being hibernated and in isolation for months.  

Nowhere in the mainstream media has supporting your immune system been addressed in any great detail or advocated for in the last 6 months to my knowledge – and I’ve been looking.  Boosting your immune system and staying healthy in this ‘pandemic’ should be your number one priority.

In some way or another for the majority of people gut health has been compromised or is not as strong as perhaps it was pre lockdown. Less movement, poor food choices, social isolation, increased stress, worry, uncertainty and fear may have certainly contributed to a weakened immune system. But the good news is you can change it and here is how!

Here are some natural ways you can begin to heal and strengthen your immune system and give yourself every chance of staying fit and healthy as we slowly integrate back into society.

Vitamin D

A deficiency in Vitamin D may increase your susceptibility to infection. There are Vitamin D receptors and activating enzymes on the surfaces of all white blood cells which is a process essential for normal immune function and therefore insufficient Vitamin D levels may lead to dysregulation of immune responses.

Adequately sourcing Vitamin D via daily sunshine or supplementation helps the immune systems stay balanced during the cold and flu season – so for us Melbournians coming out of winter without much sun for the last few months, the priority should be to top up our stores (if supplementing please consult a health practitioner to determine dosage). 

Tip: Spend 10 mins in the day outside in the sunshine. Getting your Vitamin D naturally is optimal otherwise taking a Vitamin D supplement is adequate.

Stress

Stress can have an undesirable effect on your immune system, making you more susceptible to bugs, bacteria and infections. When we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens (molecules capable of stimulating an immune response) are reduced.

There is no doubt that stress is heightened especially for those in Melbourne with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. The pressure on families, business owners etc is incredibly high. So, stress management is imperative as we navigate through these challenging times.

Tip: Even five minutes a day of guided meditation or simply sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, can make a difference. Meditation lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and reduces anxiety.

Sleep

When it comes to your health, sleep plays an important role. While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to a cold or flu.

During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.

To stay healthy, especially during the influenza season, get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. This will help keep your immune system in fighting shape.

Tip: If you’re not getting your 7-8 hours of sleep overnight, having a 20-30 min nap in the day if you’re feeling tired might be a good way to allow your body to relax. 

Exercise

Regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial for immunity. Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. 

It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Tip: The physical activity guidelines recommend 150 mins of moderate intensity aerobic exercise eg, walking, running, cycling or 75 min of vigorous intensity exercise per week. Considering gyms and exercise facilities are closed at the moment in Melbourne getting out for a walk jog or ride is easily accessible without the need for equipment.

Hydration

Hydration is a key element to maintaining a healthy immune system. As most of us are out of our normal routines during this pandemic, it is important to remember to properly hydrate.

Our immune system is highly dependent on the nutrients in our blood stream, and our blood stream is made mostly of water! If you don’t have enough water, you cannot properly transport nutrients to each organ system.

Staying well hydrated is also very important for detoxification pathways, increasing lymphatic draining and making sure we are clearing out any foreign invaders and other waste materials. Dehydration can contribute to muscle tension, headaches, low serotonin production and digestive issues.

Tip: Drink 2 – 2.5 litres per day. You can do this a number of ways. Fill up 2 x 1 litre bottles in the morning and have them ready for the day. Or you can set a reminder in your phone to perhaps have a glass every hour which promotes movement and posture reset breaks throughout the day.

Nutrition

Your immune system maintains homeostasis by defending against viruses and bacteria which can cause inflammation in the body, illness and disease. Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of the infection.

A diet containing whole unprocessed foods does wonders for your overall health and boosts your immunity. Including foods rich in Vitamin C or taking a Vitamin C supplement and Antioxidants is very important especially as we move from winter into spring and slowly out of lockdown where we have been isolated from each other. 

Tip: Eat fresh food and stay away from packaged foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables is medicine! The perimeter of the supermarket is where you should shop and avoiding the middle isles. Next time you are at the supermarket, notice that the fresh foods are on the outside and the packaged foods are in the middle.

Attitude Is Everything

Your thoughts create your reality so with that in mind having a positive mindset is vital for health and wellbeing. Research shows that positive thoughts reduce stress and inflammation and increase resilience to infection — while negative emotions can make you more susceptible to the common cold and flu. 

Tip: Think about something you’d like to participate in coming out of lockdown and start planning how you will achieve this and turn it into a reality. Put your energy into planning this so that you can hit the ground running!

Try implementing at least a few of these natural immune boosting remedies over the next month to keep you healthy as we begin to slowly come out of lockdown in Melbourne. Having been isolated for so long we will be more susceptible to illness if we do not consciously take some steps to boost our immunity – all of which can be done naturally. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at louisa@louisasammartino.com I would love to help you on your journey to better physical health.

Louisa Sammartino
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