Supporting The Immune System Naturally
Let’s talk about systems..life is a series of them. Life can be random, spontaneous and unpredictable at times and we can make assumptions that life just happens in its own way. Everything in life is a myriad of systems but in reality, patterns exist everywhere. Even when we want to or try to avoid order in our lives and we make every effort to avoid these systems, they have the ability to control everything we do and everything around us.
Even those of us who try to avoid being routine or systematic follows systems. We want to keep an open mind but when it comes to avoiding systems in our lives, we find that we follow them.
Our immune system is no different, with its complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection.
Our immune system is so complex and efficient that it keeps a record of every germ it has ever defeated, so that it will be able to recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
Life can be crazy unpredictable. When those moments of unpredictability happen, it’s even more important then ever that we take care of ourselves first so that we can be healthy wellness warriors and take on the world again.
Our cup needs to be full instead of half full, where we just keep pouring from it into all aspects of our lives. Our children, our partners, our families, our work and our own selves all need us for support and to give to all of those in our lives, we need to make time for ourselves and support our immune system.
Every day, the body's immune system is busy combatting a variety of stressors. In order to be as effective as possible against these stressors, your body needs the right support in the form of key nutrient reserves and lymphatic system support.
Below are some ways that we can best support our immune system naturally:
Vitamin C is probably one of the most well known immune enhancers. We all know Vitamin C helps to reduce the duration of the common cold, provides nutritional support for healthy immune system function and assists in the absorption of dietary iron. I still remember being a young girl and one of my favourite parts of my morning routine was having one of my yummy chewy vitamin c gummies.
Vitamin C’s role in immune enhancement helps by boosting natural killer cell activity helping your body recognise threats. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant, acting to neutralise free radicals which may impact DNA, lipids and proteins.
Some Vitamin C food sources include capsicum, citrus, melon, kiwi fruit, mango, berries, pomegranate, leafy greens, and tomatoes.
My preference for a vitamin C supplement is always Liposomal Vitamin C as it has an increase in absorption, better uptake into the bloodstream and less effect on stomach acid. I also love Eden Vitamin C powder which is made with 100% certified organic ingredients like high quality wild berries and greens. With added parsley and coriander to alkalise the superfood formula.
Zinc has a wide range of physiological functions, including the support of the body's immunity defence system and tissue development and repair. Alcohol, sugar, coffee and stress all deplete zinc.
Sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, oysters (powerhouse of zinc), legumes, dark chocolate, oats and quinoa.
Supporting the Lymphatic SystemSupporting the Lymphatic system is KEY for a robust immune system.
The primary roles of the lymphatic system is to manage fluid levels in the body as well as filter out bacteria, viruses and toxic waste, such as pathogens and dead blood cells, whilst also housing healthy white blood cells to fight off invaders and also transport nutrients around the body. The lymphatic system is made up of tubes, one-way valves, glands, nodes, the spleen, the thymus gland
and tonsils. It also works in tune with the circulatory system to deliver nutrients, hormones, oxygen and fresh fluid to the cells that help make up the tissues in the body. Lymph fluids bathe our body’s cells and carry the body’s cellular sewerage away from the tissues to be filtered and removed by two of the body’s main fluid detoxification organs: the liver and the kidneys. Lymph nodes
are found at various points around the body; the largest include the throat, armpits, chest, abdomen and groin. White blood cells called lymphocytes can then attack and kill the bacteria. This is why your lymph nodes tend to swell if you have an infection, or when they became stagnant and trapped with waste due to a poor pumping system. It is evident that overall good health must consist of a healthy lymphatic system.
Some ways that you can assist the Lymphatic system:
- Dry skin brushing
- Infrared sauna
- Walking and exercise
- Lemon juice in water
- Consistently eating a clean diet with an abundance of fruits and vegetables
- Rest and relaxation when needed
- Deep breathing
- Sleeping well
- Body massages
- Body massage tools such as gua-sha and cupping
- Body scrubs
- Hot and cold therapy
- Fresh air and walking in nature
- Trampolines and rebounding
- LED therapy
Sun Exposure & Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble vitamin that is naturally synthesised within the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Did you know that vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all, but is actually a hormone?
It is a hormone that works closely with cholesterol in the liver and with other hormones.
When the body is low in Vitamin D it lowers our immune response and therefore our defences against potentially harmful stressors. Vitamin D also plays a major role in our human genome (DNA) and is responsible for over 500 processes in the body, including assisting with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin D is essential for life and to support the immune system.
Things that may cause vitamin D deficiency are wearing clothing constantly which covers all parts of the skin, liver issues that can cause problems with conversion to active vitamin D, sleep deprivation, cholesterol lowering medication, and too much time indoors.
A Nutritious Diet
The best thing you can do to strengthen your immune system is to make healthy food and lifestyle choices. About 70% of the immune system is made in the gut, so it’s important to make sure our gut health and our digestive system is in a healthy state by consuming a range of fresh fruits and vegetables (organic if possible), a variety of good fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and limiting processed and high sugar foods (did you know that within hours of consuming sugar our immune system starts to weaken?)
Juicing can be an easier way to consume more fruits & vegetables which can help empower the body with energy, aid the body’s cleansing process, and naturally improve the function of the immune system. I love a vegetable-based green juice when I feel my immune system is a little low, as it’s a powerhouse of nutrients. I love to include all the greens - green apples, celery, parsley, cucumber and then add some ginger and maybe even a few drops of zinc liquid, some vitamin c powder, or even a greens powder too for added nutrients.
Also check out our other blog ‘Juicing for Immunity’ for some immunity juice recipes and other immune support tips.
Regulating StressStress causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol in the body. This puts you into ‘fight or flight’ mode, preparing your body to respond to whatever triggered it. While these stress hormones are an important and helpful part of the body’s response to danger, it’s vital that the body’s relaxation response be active so that it can return to homeostasis following a stressful event.
In todays high-stress society, often our stress levels don’t have enough time to recover and get back to normal. High levels of stress hormones for long periods have been show to be detrimental to our immune system and can cause negative reactions such as insomnia, inflammation and hormone imbalances, just to name a few. This is why it’s important to regulate stress and keep our stress levels down for not only our mental health, but our physical health too.
Some ways you can regulate stress and not let overwhelm sneak in:
- Get grounded
- Spend time in nature
- Dance and sing your heart out
- Drink herbal tea
- Diffuse some essential oils
- Deep breathing
Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which can help boost your immune system. Ginger is also antibacterial and antiviral, and has been shown in studies to stimulate the immune system to kill viruses, including respiratory viruses. You can use ginger in your juices, meals, soups, broths, or made into a herbal tea.
Lymph vessels drain excess fluid between cells and deals with potential bacterial and viral threats to the body.
When the body is infected by bacteria or another organism the invader is trapped in the lymph nodes, which become enlarged,
in order to concentrate the attack from the immune system. As the infection is killed by immune system cells the dead organisms are flushed through the lymphatic system to be eliminated.
There is no central pump to circulate lymphatic fluid as there is with blood and unfortunately a lot of us are not
moving our bodies enough. It is important that we physically pump our lymphatic
system with being active like, rebounding, walking, jumping, and using tools such as dry body brushing or gua sha to move the fluid that can become stagnant and toxic.
Being in the sauna is one of the very best ways to stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system and increase immunity. It has been shown quite evidently that Infrared saunas can decrease inflammation, boost the immune system, and reduce signs of physical stress. If our lymphatic fluid is moving strong and fast then it has easy access throughout the body to eliminate toxins and pathogens, if your lymph is slow moving and backed up, then you may have immunity problems and frequent colds and flus. Sweating in a sauna can assist the lymphatic system, thus supporting the immune system.
Feel free to read my other blog post here on why else I love Infrared saunas and the benefits that thy provide.
You can shop our Kiva Wellness Infrared Sauna range online today.
Manuka honey is a variety of honey from New Zealand and Australia made by Honey bees that feed on the Manuka bush, also known as the tea tree bush. What makes this honey so potent and full of healing qualities lies in the Manuka bush itself, these beautiful little flowers that the bees feed on is full of antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties, just as tee-tree is well known for as an oil or extract.
Manuka has a rating system called 'UMF' which means Unique Manuka Factor and ranges from 5+- 20+. There is also 'MGO' which stands for the Methylglyoxal content. This content is unique to Manuka honey and is what gives it extremely potent healing benefits.
It is extremely efficient when it comes to halting the growth of bacteria or viral strains that it may completely halt an illness altogether. Manuka honey is on the top of the list for me when it comes to healing if myself or a loved one becomes ill.
Herbal TeasHerbal teas can be a great way to stay hydrated and support your immune system. Most herbal teas contain antiviral and antibacterial properties that can both prevent one from getting sick, as well as supporting the immune system during a sickness.
My favourite immune supporting teas are licorice root, ginger, nettle leaf, peppermint and turmeric. I also love creating my own herbal tea blends using a range of herbs, or purchasing immune tea blends like Yogi Tea Immune Support Herbal Tea Bags.
Good Quality SleepWe all know how important sleep is, and I mention a good sleep schedule in most of my blog posts. Sleep is something we all do, we have to sleep to function as a human. During sleep, blood is pumped via the heart and moved around to repair tissues and organs.
Melatonin (a hormone) is released, which puts us in a deep sleep. The liver makes cholesterol at this time, and its also the best time for the liver to cleanse and filter the bodies fluid, extracting viruses, particles, chemicals, pathogens, allergens and toxins to be secreted via the gallbladder to produce bile.
Sleep regulates hormones, restores cells, eases the mind, hydrates skin cells and rebuilds collagen, and it also cleanses and supports the immune system.
Tips for a better sleep: Limit exposure to computer screens, TVs and phones two hours before you go to sleep, make your bedroom as dark as possible, make sure you are well hydrated but slow your fluids down after 5pm so you aren’t needing to go to the toilet all night, and diffuse essential oils in your room.
I love this herb and I’ve been using it for years as an effective remedy for assisting the body in clearing infection and dealing with acute inflammatory issues. Echinacea is considered one of nature’s most effective remedies for assisting the body in clearing infection, reducing the severity and duration of symptoms, and helps the body to deal with any bacterial or viral invaders.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years and they have recently become the new craze. The thought of putting in your medicinal mushrooms in your coffee or smoothie may seem strange at first, but trust me they have loads of health advantages!
There are loads of medicinal mushrooms that all have their individual benefits such as Lions Mane, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, Tremella, and Shiitake.
My two favourites to support the immune system are Turkey Tail and Chaga.
Turkey Tail - Turkey Tail contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that helps to stimulate the immune system. I also recently learned through watching a documentary that PSK is so effective that it’s an approved anti-cancer prescription medication in Japan!
Chaga - This medicinal mushroom is known as the ‘king of mushrooms’, and for good reason, they are an antioxidant powerhouse. Chaga is believed to strengthen immunity and reduce inflammation. Studies have also found that Chaga’s antioxidant effects can reduce damage to cells by as much as 40%.
Astragalus has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to protect and support the immune system, preventing colds and upper respiratory infections, lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, and protecting the liver.
I love this herbal supplement ImmuneQ which is a fantastic formula combination of black seed, vitamin C and zinc to provide the body with essential nutrients to support the immune system. Black seeds, or Nigella Sativa, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that supports the body’s immune response.