Supporting Your Immune System

Supporting Your Immune System

Author -  Good Health


Back to basics – Hydration

Water transports nutrients around the body helping to regulate our temperature, aid digestion and flush out toxins. An essential nutrient, water keeps our skin, tissues, organs and cells lubricated and reduces inflammation in the body. Keeping hydrated also helps the brain to function and reduces drowsiness. It is important that we are drinking around 2 litres of water each day and more if you are consuming caffeine. 

Tip: Keep a glass of plain water on your bedside table to drink when you wake; whilst you have been sleeping your body has been working hard to grow and repair any damage and needs the hydration. 


Back to basics – Exercise

Research suggests regular exercise helps to reduce the number infections we face each year, not only because it helps to strengthen our immune system, but exercise helps to flush toxins from the body too. Exercise helps to oxygenate the lungs while improving circulation, it can also help boost energy levels and assist with sleep. Moving your body is one of the simplest ways to connected with yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is best to avoid strenuous exercise as this can put your immune system under more pressure.

Tip: Whether it is going for a run, taking a walk in nature, dancing taking the kids to the park or practising breath-focussed movement like yoga, Pilates or tai-chi; make sure you move your body in a way that is enjoyable every day.


Herbal Medicine – Astragalus

Astragalus is one of the most important Chinese herbs for invigorating vital energy. Considered an immune tonic, Astragalus helps to strengthen and balance our immune response. Also considered an antioxidant, Astragalus helps to fight off damaging free radicals as well as working as an adaptogen to reduce the effect that stress has on the nervous system. 

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Herbal Medicine – Olive Leaf

The olive leaf has been used by traditional practitioners for thousands of years. The tree itself can withstand major weather events, environmental stressors and pollutants. The reason for this, is that compounds within the olive strengthen the tree and inhibit a number of viruses and bacteria, making it a wonderful tonic for our immune system when we make it into an extract. Scientists have long been researching the olive tree, confirming the traditional use of the leaf as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. A strong antioxidant, olive leaf reduces oxidative stress, thus strengthening our immune system. 

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Vitamins – Vitamin C 

During times of stress and anxiety, our stress hormone cortisol is released which depletes our Vitamin C levels. Vitamin C is crucial to our immune system and as we cannot produce it internally, our need for dietary and supplemental Vitamin C increases enormously when we are stressed. Vitamin C can help stimulate the proteins that protect us and the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties support our immune system. Vitamin C can be found in berries, capsicum and dark leafy greens, and the consumption of this wonderful vitamin also helps to absorb other immune enhancing nutrients such as iron and zinc.

Tip: Up to 100% of Vitamin C can be destroyed through cooking and storing, therefore it is best eaten fresh or taken in a supplement.

Vitamins – Vitamin D

Produced through adequate exposure to direct sunlight, levels of vitamin D3 are decreased by sunblock use in the summer and the reduced sunlight hours in winter. Vitamin D3 is often found in low levels in people with poor immunity; demonstrating the importance of Vitamin D3 for our immune system. Vitamin D can also help to support conditions like asthma as well as reducing the incidence of respiratory tract infections. 

Minerals – Magnesium

Involved in over 300 processes within the body, magnesium plays an essential role in our lives. Coffee and alcohol, increased stress and decreased sleep, amplify our need for magnesium. Magnesium has a direct influence over the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, also known as our ‘rest and digest’ branch. It is when the parasympathetic branch is active that we are the most relaxed and our immune system is able to function at its best. Because magnesium helps to induce smooth muscle relaxation, it can be used to support bronchodilation, helping to control conditions like asthma and reduce the occurrence and severity of an attack, should one occur.

Minerals – Zinc

Found in every cell of the body, Zinc works as the precursor to white blood cells, the cells of the immune system. Because of this, it functions well both as an immunity health preventative as well as a treatment. Zinc assists our immune system and maximizes the bioavailability of a range of vitamins and minerals, ensuring our body can function optimally.

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Self care - Adequate sleep

If we do not receive adequate sleep each night, not only is our mood and cognition compromised, our immune system is too. It is during sleep that our cells undergo repair, making sleep crucial for everyday function. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night so that your immune system can function optimally and you can feel your best. 

Tip: If you are having trouble sleeping, protein such as a nut butter taken at night, or an Epsom salt (magnesium) bath may help to relax your nervous system for a more restorative sleep.

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Nature has supplied us with some great effective vitamins, minerals and herbs that can help to build and maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Boosting your immune system now by nourishing your body with these key immune-enhancing nutrients will help to protect your body during these uncertain times and prepare for the winter season ahead.

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