July 24, 2024

Advanced Ailment Care

Elevating Health Solutions

7 Simple Ways To Support Your Immune System

4 min read

The end of winter is often a particularly challenging time for our health. Although it may feel as though the cold, grey days–and the associated bugs–are drawing to a close, this is often the time of year when common colds and coughs seem to linger on and on. To segue into spring without another snotty nose, scratchy throat, or stifled sniffle, ensuring the immune system is as strong as it can be is key. Here are some simple ways to support yours.

Choose love

Given that our physical and mental health are so interconnected, prioritizing what makes us feel good makes perfect sense. “Engage in activities that produce oxytocin, the love hormone,” says Deborah Maloney, a transpersonal psychotherapist and the founder of All Us Humans. “This may be through dance, laughter, or simple things like maintaining eye contact and physical touch. The more we feel natural joy, the happier our bodies and minds are. It is such a simple way to nourish ourselves.” Science backs this up too, with numerous studies indicating that adequate oxytocin is needed to maintain immunity homeostasis, foster good immune surveillance to help detect potential threats, and even to suppress stress-related immune disorders.

Chew your food

Chewing food properly is an important part of providing the body with all the nutrients it needs to keep the immune system healthy. As well as ensuring the digestive system functions adequately, it also activates the release of Th17 cells, which are a critical part of the body’s adaptive immune system. This part of the immune system is important as it fights foreign substances while also tolerating friendly and beneficial bacteria. According to research carried out by the University of Manchester, the mechanical action of chewing causes mild damage in the mouth which triggers the Th17 cells, galvanizing them into action.

Get outside (early)

Lighter mornings mean that getting up and outside as early as possible is, thankfully, less painful. Which is just as well, because getting exposure to sunlight–ideally before 9 a.m .–increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an extensive role in the proper functioning of many systems in the body. Its role in immunity is particularly important, as it’s thought to play both an innate and an adaptive part in the immune response, and in mobilizing against infection. As well as promoting the secretion of white blood cells, serotonin receptors help modulate the peripheral immune system, which works alongside the central immune system and is responsible for all immune responses that take place outside of the brain.

Think zinc

In addition to increasing the output of white blood cells, zinc plays an active role in bolstering the immune system by activating enzymes that break down proteins found in viruses and bacteria. This makes them less virulent and less likely to cause harm. Zinc can also be useful to take as we get older, when the immune system naturally declines (known as immune senescence). When this happens, an imbalance between immune cells can mean there’s not enough proper defense against new, invading threats to the immune system, leaving it vulnerable. Zinc redresses the balance for a more robust defense.

Maximize movement

Getting enough regular exercise is an essential part of almost any recovery process, but its preventative role in keeping the immune system fighting fit is not to be underestimated. “Increasing regular and daily physical activity can improve the projection and activity of immune cells and T cells, which play a crucial role in reducing and eliminating pathogens,” says Victoria Anderson, a clinical exercise physiologist and the founder of Longevity Health and Fitness. If you can, try to factor some resistance training in into your workout routine. “Resistance training has been proven to stimulate the production of important myokines, change the number of white blood cells (which are vital for disease prevention and control), and improve our immune response,” she adds.

Stock up on vitamin D

Like serotonin, vitamin D works to support both the adaptive and innate immune responses in the body. Getting enough in the UK during the winter months is tricky as there’s not enough sunlight to encourage the body to produce it, so supplementing is essential. “Research suggests that vitamin D increases the production of certain proteins, which can fight infections,” adds Jessica Love, the founder of Jessica May Wellness. “Additionally, it helps to control the release of certain immune system signals and supports the initial defense system against infections.”

Shock your system

Good news if you’re already a fan of cold water therapy: According to research, the shock of the cold temperature causes the production of leukocytes in your body. These white blood cells circulate in the blood and are the first line of defence against infection and illness. A study conducted in the Netherlands that monitored people who switched to cold showers versus people who did not, reported that those who took 30, 60, or 90 second cold showers for 90 days called in sick to work 29 percent less than those who didn’t.

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