There are many factors involved in maintaining both a balanced and healthy immune system. Your immune system acts as the first barrier to prevent antigens from the entering the body, and this article outlines four essential steps to supporting your immune function:
- Sleep (the caveat here being good sleep)
It is widely accepted that getting less than six – seven hours of quality sleep each night can decimate our immune system. Not only that, but the less decent sleep we get, the less resistant we are to both physical and mental disorders.
According to the World Health Organisation, sleep is the single most important factor in maintaining good health — more than food, exercise and wealth. Try keeping a sleep diary for a month and implement a habit of getting six – eight hours of sleep every night. If you can achieve this level of quality sleep, the results may astound you and will improve not just your immune function, but many other areas of life.
We recommend Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep which contains cutting-edge sleep science wisdom.
2. Reduce Stress and Be Positive
If we treat our body like a rusty old car whose only function is to drive from point A to point B, it is difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle. We must learn how to switch off and relax because stress affects the thymus gland which manufactures white blood cells, and these are vital in regulating immunity. The list of negative health effects caused by stress is huge.
To reduce stress, nurture a positive caring attitude towards yourself. Work smart, worry less and spend more time at leisure, preferably with loved ones. Check your posture and flexibility and your strength and cardiovascular health. Meditate daily and follow a plan to relax the body. Enjoy personal time – for example spending time on a skin care regimen. Moving your focus from the mind into the body regularly each day boosts mental and physical health.
It’s important to do some personal spring cleaning in areas of your life that create tension. But go gently as you do this: don’t obsess or worry, progress step by step without too much pressure for results. These things combined steadily relieve hidden tensions, lift the spirit and create a positive domino effect on your immune system.
To learn how not to worry and avoid stress, you could try reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
3. Good Nutrition
A healthy balanced diet is one of the best ways to support immune function. All too often we choose meals based on what flavours we fancy at the time. That is fine if we include important nutrients alongside that juicy burger!
Put simply, here is what to include in your diet: fresh fruit and vegetables, antioxidant rich foods, pre- and pro-biotics, Zinc, Copper, Folate, Iron, Selenium, Vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D. A good balance of all vitamins and minerals is crucial, so take an interest in nutrition and find out what you as an individual really need. Personalise your approach to food too: what might be good for another person might not be good for you, especially when it comes to portion size.
Tip: Too much sugar in the body at once lowers the immune system drastically. Check out our other blog pieces such as The Importance of Gut Health and How to Improve It on our website and app.
4. Regular Moderate Exercise
Fact: over-exercising exhausts the body and decimates the immune system.
We all like goals in life such as fitness progression, strength gain and the buzz of a high-energy exercise class. But what price does our health pay when we place relentless physical demand upon the body?
Ironically, the price is bad health. So, go easy folks, especially during the current global situation. When biologists and health experts promote regular exercise as one of the pillars of good health, intersperse intense sessions with regular moderate exercise like mobility sessions, stretching, yoga and pilates. Physical activities which encourage good posture, deep breathing, healthy blood flow, relaxation, flexibility, balance, and functional muscle strength will sustainably maintain a sprightly body for a lot longer. And guess what? They help balance the immune system too. Choosing a balanced exercise programme can support your immune system – reach out to us if you need any advice.
Consider these four elements as the necessary ingredients for an optimum immune function recipe. Have fun fitting them into your daily routine and don’t be daunted! If you can make one change at a time, before you know it, you will have a healthy lifestyle, lots more energy and a strong immune system.
The Health Club