Did you know that your immune system is the gateway to protecting your health from the flu, viruses and colds. There's never a better time to get into some good wellbeing habits to boost your immune system than now. Here are the common things that can derail your immune system and some ideas to help boost it.
- Lower your stress levels. Did you know that white blood cells are the main types of immune cells, and when we are stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens that can cause illness is reduced. When you're stressed your body also produces more of the stress hormone cortiocosteriod which can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. There's lots we can't control right now in the world, but we can build in some calming rituals that help reset your body into thinking it is not stressed.
- One of the most effective ways is to take even 10 minutes each day to meditate. There are loads of great apps such as Calm and Headspace that offer a range of different voices and ways to meditate. All you need is a quiet space and a chair.
- When we are stressed we tend to shallow breathe - it's our fight or flight reflex coming in to play. Slowing down your breathing, taking deep breaths and fully exhaling helps to trick your body into thinking you are out of danger, lowering stress levels. The 4-7-8 sequence is a good one - breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds. exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds. repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
- Sleep. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep. Here's some of our favourite sleep rituals:
- Have a warm bath or shower an hour before bed. This increases your body temperature, and as your body cools it prepares itself for sleep
- Our bodies like it cool at night, and when it does begin to warm up it interrupts our sleep. Experts say 16-20 degrees is the ideal temperature range for sound sleep.
- Get into a routine - maybe that's taking extra time to cleanse your face, do a facial massage routine, read a book, slow down and so your body knows ok it's time to hit the hay zzzzz
- We are also fans of aromatherapy oils - Lavendar is a well known favourite, but Valerian, Clary Sage, Sweet Majoram and Bergamot are goodies too. Dilute the essential oil with a base oil like sweet almond or coconut and massage into the soles of your feet before bed (as it absorbs faster) and place a little on pulse points and take a few deep breaths
- Exercise. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness. Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells that are the body's immune system cells that fight disease. If you want to stay indoors, there are lots of great apps, and Les Mills members are getting free access to Les Mills On Demand classes at the moment, with over 800 classes to choose from.
- Yoga. The movements in yoga can stimulate the organs producing an immune boosting response. It also helps with stress and sleep, and there is never a better time to get into a daily practice. Yoga can be done by all ages and physical abilities and there are so many apps to choose from. The Yoga Studio have a range of specific online classes for immunity that we love (plus they also include meditations so it's a 2 for 1 app). Your local yoga studio may be offering live online classes - Flourish Yoga in Takapuna is one we like.
- Diet. Never a truer time to say you are what you eat. Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks. Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Here are a few of the foods that your immune system likes: Blueberries, Dark Chocolate (not the whole bar!), Turmeric, Oily fish, Broccoli, Kumara, Spinach and Ginger. Think fresh not processed. Fruit not cookies. Plenty of fresh veges. Healthy juices and smoothies.
- Vitamins & Supplements. If you have a great diet, these are often not necessary. We all know that Vitamin C is a go-to in cold season, others on the list are Vitamin D, Zinc, Elderberry (not in your G&T!), Garlic, Licorice, B vitamins, Echenacia, Curcumin and Selenium.
- Alcohol. As tempting as it may be to drown our stress and take the edge off, alcohol slows the immune system, making bacteria-fighting white blood cells sluggish and much less efficient. There is talk that red wine contains vital cold-defeating flavonoids, but try to stick to no more than a daily glass.
- Escape. Right now we can extend a special invitation for you to experience a free Escape Haven 5 day virtual retreat. Would you love to start your day with inspiring morning rituals, energising workouts and immune-boosting tonics, and end your day with nurturing Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra to ensure a blissful slumber? Now you can.
We hope that you find something here to help you to take better care of your health and wellbeing. Take care of you until we can take care of you again x