A well functioning immune system is essential during the cooler months. While we cannot always avoid exposure to those nasty winter bugs, there are natural approaches that we can incorporate to promote healthy immune function.
Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables
Ensure you get a good range of essential nutrients to fuel your immune system. Colourful whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that help our immune system fight infections. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are also rich in fibres that feed our healthy gut bacteria. This microbial population makes up a large part of our immune system, so keeping it well fed will boost immune function.
Boost lymphatic circulation
Our lymphatic system is a network of vessels that transport fats and proteins, drain cellular waste and toxins, and is where majority of our infection-fighting white blood cells reside. Lymphatic fluid moves through the lymphatic vessels and drains into lymph nodes (more commonly referred to as glands), where any unwanted debris, toxins and waste is filtered out. These lymph nodes or glands are also an immune checkpoint, where the white blood cells screen the lymphatic fluid for pathogens such as bacteria. Keeping the lymphatic fluid moving is essential for optimal immune function, and there are a few simple ways we can encourage this:
1. Regular exercise and movement
By physically moving our bodies we can increase out lymphatic circulation. Research has also shown that Exercise can boost immune cells that fight off infections, so rug up and get moving for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
2. Dry skin brushing
Regularly brushing your skin with a body brush is a great way to boost lymphatic circulation. It is also great for exfoliating dry skin during the winter months. Always brush towards the heart using a gentle sweeping motion.
3. Therapeutic massage
Massage stimulates the movement and drainage of the lymphatic fluid as well as boosting immune cells that fight off those dreaded winter bugs. Massage is also a great stress-buster and helps to reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone that reduces immune function).
Keep your nervous system in check
Our nervous system has many, many functions in the body and can be impacted by both physical and mental or emotional stress. The nervous and immune systems are intricately connected, and where there is imbalance in the nervous system, the immune system cannot function at its best. Adequate sleep is essential for rejuvenating the brain and nervous system, as is stress management. Meditation is great for managing stress levels, or even just taking some time out for yourself can be just as effective. Finally, maintaining the physical health of you nerves (and joint structures that surround them) will ensure that they are functioning and communicating with other body systems efficiently.
Medicinal herbs and spices
Herbs are a great natural immune booster, as they contain plant chemicals that help fight off infections and strengthen our immune response. Herbs such as garlic, ginger, thyme and basil can be easily incorporated into your diet, while herbal teas are perfect for keeping you warm and hydrated during the cooler months. For an extra immune boost or some soothing relief add a teaspoon or two of Manuka honey to your herbal tea.
Enjoy the seasonal shift to cooler days and remember to give yourself a little extra nourishment. The team at Total Health Brookvale are here for you, if ever you need us.