Annie Nilsson - Apr 6 2021

Top tips to boost your immunity

W

e all know that the immune system is our body's defence against infection and illness, from healing wounds and warding off infections, to protecting against chronic and life threatening diseases. 


What you might not know, is that it can be broken down into two main parts - the innate immune response, and the adaptive immune response. 

Innate immunity is a fast, but non-specific immune response deployed by our bodies at the first sign of infection. Made up of both physical and chemical barriers, innate immunity is largely responsible for inflammatory responses that make us feel unwell including high temperatures, or excess mucus.

Essentially, it allows our body the time it needs to harness a more targeted response. That's where adaptive immunity comes in. 

Adaptive immunity is the immune function we’ve developed over time as we’re naturally exposed to harmful viruses, bacteria and pathogens. This slower, and much more specific response involves the production of antibodies produced by white blood cells in order to fight a specific pathogen. 


So, what should we be doing to boost our immune system?

To strengthen your immune system naturally, the first step is to increase your intake of unprocessed whole foods. Aim for a diet that’s at least 80% natural whole foods. Think fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

In addition to a whole foods based diet, many turn to supplementation to boost their intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite immunity boosting supplements. 

Camu Camu
Theis Peruvian superfood is known for its exceptionally high vitamin C and antioxidant content, with 50 times more vitamin C per gram than an orange, and a range of antioxidants and phytochemicals that provide natural cell protection and immune system support. Vitamin C is known for its ability to help reduce the length, and severity of viral infections, and strengthen the immune system, while antioxidants enhance the immune response by protecting your immune cells from oxidative stress. 

Spirulina 
Studies show that Spirulina has a direct effect on both innate and adaptive immune responses. Most commonly available in tablet or powder form, this blue-green algae is a great source of immune supporting vitamins and minerals, as well as being rich in chlorophyll (aka nature's cleanser), and plant-based iron. 

Andrographis 
Andrographis, also known as Indian echinacea, has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda. And while it might not taste great, this herb is seriously rich in anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties. Said to be a natural immune booster, andrographis is most widely used to treat cold and flu symptoms like throat irritation, coughing, headaches and congestion, decreasing the duration and severity of illness.


Find some effective stress management techniques

Stress also plays a huge role in our health and wellness. When we’re stressed, our body’s ability to fight off the effects of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens is seriously reduced, making us more susceptible to infections. 

While in the short term, cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) can boost immunity by limiting inflammation. Intense, unmanaged or chronic levels of cortisol however, have been linked to high blood pressure and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. There are endless options when it comes to reducing stress. But here are a couple of ultra simple ways to incorporate a few minutes of stress relief into your busy day. 

Move your body daily 
Whether it’s resistance training, high intensity cardio or even long walks and gentle stretching, moving your body each day is essential for stress management and immunity.  
Not only does exercise lower cortisol levels and release endorphins (also known as the feel good hormone), but it can be a great outlet to release frustration and de-stress.  

Learn to say no
It's oh so easy to fall into the trap of taking on more than we can handle. Whether it’s an overloaded social calendar, you’re pushing yourself extra hard at the gym, or you’ve taken on one too many projects at work, remember that it’s okay to say no. Being honest with yourself, and those around you about how much downtime you need is ultra important. So instead of overwhelming yourself with endless commitments, scheduling in time for self care can make it easier to follow through on some much needed (and deserved) downtime.

Meditate
Not only is meditation a fantastic option for immediate stress relief, but with consistent practice, it allows us to develop long term stress tools that help us take a proactive approach to stress management. With endless meditation options to choose from, take your time to find one that works for you. 

Prioritise your beauty sleep.

Similarly to just about every other aspect of your health, sleep is plays a vital role when it comes to supporting your immune system.
As a key period of rest and recovery, sleep plays an important role in the strength of both our innate, and adaptive immunity.  

According to the Sleep Foundation, a lack of nightly sleep has been linked to both short term illnesses, and chronic disease, with studies showing that in the short term, risk of infection has found to be significantly higher in people who sleep less than 7 hours per night.  

So, while we may think we can get through the day on limited sleep, studies show that our immune system does not in fact, get used to a lack of sleep (no matter how much we’d like to believe it does). But rather, it can actually lead low grade inflammation to become chronic, and in turn, worsen long term health. 

And while this may sound a little scary, making small changes to our sleeping habits, routines and environment can help us improve our quality of sleep and ultimately, our immunity. 

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