The chilly air has arrived, the clocks have turned back and it’s that time of year where people start to get sick. Let’s talk about boosting your immunity so you can skip those unwell feelings! Your immune system is such an important part of your body, it is your system of defense against germs, bacteria and viruses. Antibodies and antitoxins of the immune system recognize these intruders and attack them using white blood cells. When this system is faced with a pathogen it has not built up defenses for it may translate into illness, or when this system is weakened from things like stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition or dehydration it becomes vulnerable to these foreign bodies.
The immune system is made up of two systems; innate and adaptive. The innate immune system fights against general pathogens that enter the body, it is a non-specific immune response. The adaptive immune systems job is to fight against foreign invaders that the body has been in contact with before, a specific immune response (It remembers!). There are cells in your body called “killer T-cells” which are a form of white blood cells and their role is to find and attack cells that have been taken over by a virus – how neat is that!
Now that you know how amazing your immune system is and how its sole purpose is to keep you healthy, here are ways to keep it well and strong. You can help your immune system help you!
1) Load the gut with healthy bacteria and its food, did you know they have to be fed?! Do this by increasing fermented foods, loaded with probiotics such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Incorporate foods into your diet that contain inulin, also referred to as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are food for your healthy gut bacteria. You can find them in, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, asparagus, garlic and dandelion greens. Remember: 70% of your immune system is wrapped around your gut, let’s keep it healthy!
2) Speaking of garlic, ever cut into one and wonder why it becomes sticky after a few moments? That is allicin. It’s a potent compound that is activated when garlic is cut up or chopped. It contains anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. Let your cut up garlic sit for a few moments to increase the allicin content then eat the garlic raw and reap the benefits!
3) Consume foods containing Zinc, it is an immune boosting element and helps to regulate immune response. You can find zinc in many foods, some great options are pumpkin seeds, legumes and whole grains.
4) Vitamin C is the superstar vitamin of the immune system. Many cells of the immune system store vitamin C and is needed to perform their tasks against pathogens. Boost up on your fruits and veggies, such as citrus, leafy greens, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.
5) Eat foods high in Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in nuts & seeds. It is full of antioxidants and helps the body combat infection.
6) Incorporating herbs such as echinacea, gold seal, and ginger are amazing for increasing immunity.
7) Reduce your sugar intake! Studies show 1 tsp of sugar can suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours, by putting your white blood cells into a temporary coma, preventing them from attacking pathogens.
8) Last but not least, we can’t forget the role of a whole foods diet and loads of water to keep your whole body feeling amazing and performing optimally.
I hope this finds you well and inspired!