Let’s face it, we are up against all kinds of viruses on this planet, not only Covid-19 and its variants as most people are predominantly concerned about. Moreover, if you are suffering from a chronic health condition, it is likely that those are the symptoms of hidden inflammation or viral infection. The best way to boost your immune response is to improve your overall well being. Lifestyle is the single most important modifiable factor involved in maintaining overall health.
The findings, published January 15 in Cell, show that life habits and experiences shape our body’s defenses more than the DNA passed down from our parents.
Therefore it is not only seasonal but our lifetime responsibility to take good care of ourselves and our families. No matter what virus you want protection from, I hope this information can help you and your loved ones to build up your immune system so you can fight off pathogens and recover quickly and effectively.
Take a look at the list of things below that weaken your immune system and make an honest self-assessment of your lifestyle:
Poor diet (rich with sugar and simple carbs, highly processed foods with additives, low on fruit & veggies)
Smoking and excessive alcohol and/or other drugs consumption
Not maintaining regular exercise and limited time spent outdoors in nature.
Now take a look at some easy lifestyle habits that can improve your overall health and boost immunity:
1. Hydrate: The body including our brain is 75% water and without proper hydration, all body functions suffer. Making sure you’re staying hydrated is an important first step. The recommended daily water intake varies depending on weight between 2-2,5l for women and 3-3,5l for men. However, if you exercise an hour a day, you need to add more water to your recommended amount. If you feel cold, herbal tea is a great alternative.
2. Nurture yourself with a whole food diet:
The revolution of food science or commonly known as food processing has ushered in the chronic disease and weak immunity epidemic and fundamentally undermined the biology of the planet on a grand scale. 94% of our fate is determined by what we eat and the microbiome within us because it determines the strength of our immune system and what we absorb.
However, it is hard to find any packaged food that does not harbor a chemically-altered compound that our physiology has never had to handle. Highly processed , sugar and simple carbs rich foods and alcohol destroy the health of our microbiome and gut lining. (Read my blog post “Sugar is an Antinutrient and #1 Addiction!” to learn more).
The increased toxicity of processed food increases tissue-damaging free radicals, disrupts insulin regulation and electrolyte balance – all of which leads to increased levels of chronic inflammation. The consequences of this will manifest with mood instability, as well as poor memory and concentration and low immunity. Just remember that most supermarket food is designed to prolong shelf life, not yours. To restore our microbiome, it is important to avoid processed foods and prioritize fresh, organic, whole, fiber and nutrient-dense food.
3. Get adequate sleep: Quality sleep is essential as it allows our bodies to shift into detoxification and regenerative mode, producing higher levels of hormones, chemicals and white blood cells which heal wounds and fight infection. Failure to get enough sleep can elevate the chemicals in your body which promote inflammation. In fact, many scientific studies have linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of developing many chronic and potentially life threatening diseases such as High Blood Pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and depression
The Sleep Foundation website explains the core relationship between sleep and immunity. There you can also find tips for your particular sleeping problem. Sleep & Immunity: Can a Lack of Sleep Make You Sick? | Sleep Foundation
4. Minimize stress: These are stressful times and we are all experiencing moments of heightened anxiety.
Nowadays you might feel exhausted just from trying to maintain a positive outlook. It’s hard to be at your best when you’re tired and stressed out. Energy isn’t just for movement and exercise; you also need energy for emotions and thinking. (To learn how to engage gracefully with difficult emotions, read my blog post “Emotion = Energy in Motion”). Mental stress is one of the most detrimental factors against building immunity. Minor stress is normal. But if your job, relationship or financial situation is eating away at your mental health, keep in mind that it’s doing the same to your physical body. When you’re mentally overwhelmed, the body puts the immune system at the bottom of the priority list. The simplest and most important thing you can do is to go outside for a walk and get fresh air. Inside, we primarily breathe pathogen-laden recirculated air which is proven to be 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors. Going outside gives our lungs a chance to discharge toxins, increase oxygen intake and lower cortisol. (Read my blog post “Why detox must become a lifestyle?”)
Keep checking in with yourself. Pinpoint anything that may be causing you unhealthy amounts of stress, and see how you can change or eliminate it.
5. Maintain healthy hygiene: Often people don’t realize that basically 90% of what we are is bacteria. Out of all known bacteria only less than 1% are pathogenic. So our job is to keep the good 99% of bacteria thriving so they do the right job for us. “We really are a collection of organisms. There’s a word for it, it’s called holobiome… The holobiome means a super-organism. So what we really are is a walking-talking rain forest. We are a collection of mini-ecologies all over our body,” says a well-known microbiologist Kiran Krishnan. Studies show that children have more allergies and asthma when homes are well sterilized. Our exposure to microbes actually builds strength in the immune system, building a certain type of knowledge within our immune system. Using eco-friendly cleaning products or just water with essential oils like tea tree oil can be good enough to take care of your environment. Use non-toxic plant-based solutions for body and oral hygiene as well.
6. Exercise: Multiple studies in humans and animals have demonstrated the profound impact that exercise can have on the immune system. During and after physical exercise, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, lymphocyte circulation increases, as well as cell recruitment. Such practice has an effect on the lower incidence, intensity of symptoms and mortality in viral infections observed in people who practice moderate physical activity regularly. However, regular high intensity exercises can put too much stress on the body, therefore decreasing the strength of immune system. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a jog, yoga practice or online fitness class, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
7. Breathwork is a powerful practice that will benefit your mind, body, and soul. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and increases exercise benefits. Studies have shown that controlled breathing is an effective way to boost your body’s immunity. According to scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina, test subjects that were instructed to do 20 minutes of controlled breathing exercises had lower levels of inflammation proteins in their saliva than subjects who simply read during that time. This suggests that with regular breathwork, you too can experience less inflammation and higher immunity.
8. Sauna (ideally Infrared): Thermotherapy has been used for thousands of years for hygiene, health, social, and spiritual purposes. The extreme heat raises your core body temperature by 1°-2°C, inducing an artificial fever and triggering the body’s defence system accordingly.
I use HigherDOSE infrared sauna blanket at the comfort of my home. The reported benefits of using an infrared sauna, including better sleep, relaxation, relief from sore muscles are impressive. Regular sauna use reinforces the body’s defence mechanisms on cellular level. But just like anything else, before you heat up, take note of potential side effects and risks, especially if you have kidney disease or low blood pressure.
Pro tip: increase water intake and alternate between hot and cold (ex. sauna and cold shower) to maximize benefits.
9. Dry Brushing: Dry skin brushing is a highly effective technique for assisting the lymphatic system and boosting both lymphatic and blood circulation. The immune system is directly dependent upon the lymphatic system. In fact, if the flow of lymphatic materials slows, it weakens the immune system. Its primary function is that of a defense mechanism and it is key to the body’s immune defenses. Adding a daily 10 minute lymphatic self-massage or dry brushing session stimulates lymphatic drainage and assists normal lymph flow. Skin brushing helps exfoliate and invigorate our skin too.
10. Supplements: In addition to improving our lifestyles, there is a plethora of natural supplementation that can have great effects on immunity. Be aware that when purchasing supplements, it’s important to prioritize quality – look for those that have gone through thorough testing, have detailed, preferably organic ingredient lists and are recommended by professionals. The top supplements to boost your immune system are zInc, liposomal vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin D3+K2, Omega-3, curcumin, echinacea, cat’s claw, chaga, reishi and turkey tale mushrooms, curcumin, ginger and garlic. Remember to always talk with a good healthcare practitioner before taking a new supplement! I will be sharing more useful information about supplements in my future posts.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that the human body isn’t as delicate as we are led to believe— we are actually quite resilient. We don’t live in a world where we are under constant attack by nature. It’s really the other way around: the destruction of nature by humankind has ultimately altered our biology to a point where we have had to maladapt to our self-created toxic environment. But we can correct our course. We can end our germ warfare tactics. We can begin to appreciate the microbiome’s extraordinary capacity for the innate immune system. We can try and decrease the toxicity in our lives. We can embrace the world and life all around us and celebrate the incredible biodiversity we live in each day.
If you would like to improve your vitality and wellbeing, do not hesitate to schedule a free discovery session. Be conscious = live healthy! Thank you!