I don’t think I’m the only person who’s currently sick and tired of being sick and tired! With all the coverage surrounding co-vo, it’s brought the immune system to the forefront of everyones minds. People are more curious about the immune system and how to boost the immune system.
Which can’t be a bad thing, right?!
One thing to note about the immune system though is when it’s working well, we won’t even notice or remember it exists. However, when something isn’t right, that’s when we need to pay closer attention.
How The Immune System Works
Our immune system plays a vital role in our body, made up of various organs, cells and proteins. It protects us from harmful substances, germs and cell changes that could make us ill. When our immune system is compromised, weak or encounters particularly aggressive germs it can’t fit, we get sick.
Also, if our immune system comes into contact with a germ it’s never encountered before, we’re likely to get sick.
where is immune system?
The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection.
The main parts of the immune system are:
- white blood cells
- complement system
- lymphatic system
- bone marrow
How Much Of your Immune System Is In Your Gut?
As more and more of us are learning how important gut health is, I was fascinated to hear that microbiota in our stomach accounts for 70% of our immune system and weighs a whole 2kg by itself.
How To Boost & Support Your Immune System
Although there is no quick fix for an immune system boost, there are of course various things we can all bear in mind to support our immune system and keep ourselves well. These are all well documented and tried and tested by me!
Ironically, some of these methods of immune system support I’ve used before but then fallen out of the habit so this post is as much inspiration for me as it is for you.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
I popped along to Perea Clinic in Angel, London for a lymphatic drainage massage after catching a cold, which followed a period of general sickness post vaccine. I’d not actually heard of lymphatic drainage massage before so I was curious to experience it and see if it could help.
The lymphatic system is a network of delicate tubes throughout the body which manage fluid levels, react to bacteria and deal with cell products that otherwise would result in disease or disorders. It does a lot more too!
The lymphatic system is made up of:
- lymph nodes (also called lymph glands) – which trap microbes
- lymph vessels -tubes that carry lymph, the colourless fluid that bathes your body’s tissues and contains infection-fighting white blood cells
- white blood cells (lymphocytes).
Lymphatic Drainage Massage Experience
Lymphatic drainage massage is a form of light massage that encourages lymph flow.
With a low immune system, the 45minute session focused on the front of my body. My Therapist, Yaneth, would start in each area by massaging the regional lymph nodes and then massaging the area that drains towards those lymph nodes.
I went in with typical sinusitis symptoms – congestion, nasal drip, and facial pressure – and left feeling much better, and way more relaxed.
Immune System Booster Foods
There are so many foods out there that can help support and boost your immune system. Kinda makes sense why we’re always told to ‘eat the rainbow’.
Eating a range of colourful, vitamin rich foods – especially fruits and vegetables – will help to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
I recently had a chat with Rob Hobson, from Healthspan, who gave me a great piece of advice… to “always think about adding one more thing to your meal….”
“Always think about adding one more thing to your meal…”Rob Hobson
So if you’re having porridge, you could add berries or seeds. If you’re having a ready meal, could you steam some broccoli and beans, or add a salad?
It’s also crucial to make sure you eat enough to maintain energy levels and mental performance.
Immune System Vitamins & Supplements
First of all, it’s important to try and get as much of your nutrient needs from your food as you can. Then, use vitamins and supplements to fill in the gaps.
Personally, my iron levels are always hard to keep within normal range along with vitamin D, so those are the two main supplements I use. I started using Solgar Gentle Iron (another recommendation from the private GP I saw) but have also recently used a great one from Dr Vegan.
Vitamin C is also good for boosting your immune (and also was recommended to me by the private GP). She suggested 2g of vitamin C per day if you’re feeling under the weather so I’ve been maintaining that whilst I’ve been unwell.
After reading Roar!, I also supplement with Zinc in the days before my period, which helps support immunity. It can also be found in lean meats, fish, seafood, nuts seeds and beans.
Last but not least, the implications of vitamin D deficiency on the immune system have become clearer in recent years and in the context of vitamin D deficiency, there appears to be an increased susceptibility to infection (Aranow, 2011).
With limited exposure to the sun during the Winter months, especially in the UK, it can be difficult for us to get our daily requirement of vitamin D.
However, if you feel supplementation may be beneficial, it’s best to have a blood test done to check levels before you start throwing money at the situation.
Look After Your Gut Health
Friendly gut bacteria found in fermented foods and supplements, helps support your body’s defences against viruses and can shorten any illness.
Kefir is one example which I’ve tried and was also recommended to me by a private GP. The GP recommended buying the ‘mother’ from Freshly Fermented to make kefir at home. I’ve not tried this yet, but it’s on my list to do!
Due to the fermentation process Kefir goes through, it’s actually suitable for anyone who like me, is lactose intolerant. My go-to when shop bought is Bio-tiful Dairy.
I can also highly recommend Symprove. When I first wrote my review, I kinda knew it was good but I’ve since gone back to using it to help support my overall health. Symprove is a unique water-based probiotic formula that is packed full of live, active bacteria.
Move Your Body
Get up and / or get out and get moving! A 20min walk round the block, a 15min run, 30min cycle or 10min HIIT workout is enough to help your body shift fluid around and get rid of metabolic waste without overdoing it.
Keep in mind that intense exercise can put increased pressure on your body which temporarily reduces the efficiency of your immune system making you prone to illness. Swimming is also a great choice for lymphatic movement. The force of the water on your body causes a significant increase in hydrostatic pressure creating an amazing movement of lymph.
HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket V3
I’ve had this sauna blanket from HigherDOSE for months… and have barely cracked it out of the packaging as I’ve been “too busy”.
HigherDOSE’s signature Infrared Sauna Blanket gives you a natural high, reduces pain, + leaves you relaxed and glowing – and I’ve been missing out.
The use of an infrared sauna strengthens your immune system by increasing white blood cell production, triggering the immune system, releasing impurities, improving blood circulation, regenerating cells, and promoting relaxation. So for those of us who don’t have the space for a sauna, this is a good alternative.
I’m gonna have to report back when I’ve given this blanket a few goes. I think I’m gonna opt for a bit of Netflix and…
More Ways To Support Your Immune System
- Keep hydrated! Remember that alcohol can suppress your immune system so drink plenty of water with all your festive drinks.
- Get enough sleep to complement all that good food you’re eating. Research suggests that a minimum of 7 hours should be our target.
- Buy a dry brush (if you don’t have one). Dry-brushing your skin in circular motions, especially on arms, legs and lower torso. Dry brushing once or twice a week promotes lymph flow / drainage.
I feel like we go on about self care a lot, but it’s more than candles and journalling. Surely self care starts with the basics? Nourishing our body with food, keeping hydrated and getting the sleep we need.
What’s your favourite way to spend some self-care time?!
NCBI, 2020 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/
Aranow C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755