Tips to Boost your Immune System
This post is to provide ideas on how to boost the immune system and in no way replaces medical advice. If you feel unwell please contact your medical practitioner.
The immune system - What an important part of our functionality. It is the organs and processes of the body that provides resistance to infections and toxins. Today we are exposed to a new virus, Covid-19, that we need to build an immunity to as a society, let alone in our body. So how do we give our immune system a helping hand?
The tips I give you have been tried and tested by myself, my family and generations before me, as I come from a long line of Indian home remedies. Growing up in an Indian family I always thought that everyone knew the basic home remedies to help fight a cold or flu until I moved to the UK and found that not everyone knows about the various tips.
Not only do I come from an Indian culture, I also had to learn a lot more over the years to support the autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with. 15ish years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, after having my child. I first started off by a conventional medicine that the doctor gave me but it was so strong and I had to come off it, immediately. The first week I started taking the tablet (can't remember the name of it as it was so long ago) I broke out in a rash all over my body, I had migraines and had to sit in a dark room for a week. I could even lift my head off the pillow. There was no way I could continue with the tablet. Plus I had a baby to take care of.
I then came of the medication and embarked on a long journey to help my immune system. 15 years on and I have more knowledge on how to boost my immune system and I have reduced the rheumatoid arthritis from 100 % pain to less than 5 %. And that 5% is only when I am highly stressed (given that I am a Special Needs teacher and a Special Needs mum).
Tips to boost your immune system.
Not only do we boost our immune system orally, but we need to also help our mind and emotions as well. There needs to be a balance in the mind, body and emotions for the immune system to work well and do its job.
My first tip is to keep at it. You may not feel the difference straight away but over time you will build up the balance that will contribute to a strong immune system.
Taking care of the body!
Vitamins and Minerals
In today's society with long life drinks, convenient foods and junk food so easily accessible to us, we have depleted vitamins in our body. The most natural way of increasing vitamins and nutrients in our body is by eating healthy fruit, vegetables, proteins, healthy carbs and healthy fats. But when you lead a busy lifestyle it is not always easy to eat those healthy foods 24/7. We should try to eat healthy foods as much as possible but on those occasions when we eat unhealthy foods hopefully the vitamin supplements that we take regularly will keep our immune system ticking along well.
So what vitamins and mineral supplements support the immune system?
Vitamin C - Acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cells from damage and free radicals. Without going too much into the science - free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the cells. So vitamin C helps the body produce important antibodies and protect the cells.
Vitamin B-Complex - The one that helps with energy and reduce stress. Stress is probably one of the biggest reasons for a compromised immune system. This is a whole another blog altogether. But in terms of boosting the immune system it's an important one. B vitamins have a direct impact on our energy levels, brain function and cell metabolism. Vitamin B-Complex can help prevent infections and promote healthy red blood cells.
Vitamin D - Growing up in South Africa vitamin D was never a problem, until I moved to the UK. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin. The body takes in vitamin D through the wrists and iris. As everyone knows, the UK is not known for it's sunshine so most people are deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin is important to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. So top up on the vitamin D and when the sun is out try and expose your wrists and eyes to the sun. But never look directly at the sun. Just try to avoid wearing sun glasses, if you can.
Zinc - This is a mineral. We only need small amounts of zinc for a healthy body. Zinc is needed to activate T cells. T cells helps the body to control and regulate immune responses and attack infected and cancerous cells. The minute I feel a cold coming on I increase my dosage of zinc to help my immune system fight off the infection.
Now for the good ole Indian home remedies.
Turmeric - Indians cook with turmeric no matter what we cook. It is a good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant spice. The minute I or my family feel a cold coming on we get straight on the turmeric so our dosage is increased. You can also buy turmeric capsules as a supplement.
Honey - Another antioxidant. Put this together with turmeric and you got yourself a cold buster.
Recipe - add a Tbsp of honey, quarter tsp of turmeric. Heat is for a few seconds and then drink it as hot as your tongue can manage, without burning yourself. You can have this as many times as you need to especially when you have a soar throat.
Bonus - The honey and turmeric mixture can be added to hot water as well, first thing in the morning to get the digestive system going.
Fresh Lemon - Fresh lemon has many benefits. It is great for colds and flu because it's a great source of vitamin C. The bonus is it helps arthritis and joint pains too. I know this from experience. Lemon in it's natural state is acidic but once consumed it becomes an alkaline. So anyone with arthritic pains or even eczema have too much acidity in their stomachs. The effect of lemon is proven to be alkalising, thus reducing acidity in the body and reducing joint pains. Squeeze half a fresh lemon first thing in the morning and drink on an empty stomach. I swear by this one for joint pain relief.
Bonus - Add fresh lemon wedges to your drinking water (I add it to my water bottle) and watch/feel your body transport those toxin out of your body. (You will need to stock up on toilet rolls, then 😁)
Garlic - Garlic can reduce the risk of getting sick in the first place. It is a preventative measure. Garlic has antibacterial and anti fungal properties. There are even garlic supplements that you can take but if you can load up fresh garlic in your food as well then it couldn't hurt.
Our lifestyle choices can either compromise our immune system or boost it. We want to lean more towards boosting our immune system.
So what lifestyle choices boost the immune system.
Again, consistency is important in improving the immune system.
Reducing cortisol - Not everyone's body needs 8 hours of sleep. We all have our own sufficient amount that the body needs. Whatever that amount is, you must wake up feeling refreshed and revving to go. For several years, I would get 8 to 9 hours of sleep but still wake up feeling tired. I ended up going to a homeopath who identified that I had adrenal fatigue. I have a child with autism and for many years my life was full of stress. So no matter how much sleep I got I still felt tired and had dark circles under my eyes. She helped me reduce the cortisol (the stress hormone) in my body and since then I am able to wake up feeling refreshed no matter how much sleep I get. (I'm still not a morning person though 😀).
Diffuser - I love a diffuser for many reasons.
It adds moisture to the air so you are not woken up at night because of a dry throat or dry nostrils.
It stops my husband from snoring. (A life saver....more like a marriage saver 😍). That means I am not woken up several times at night.
Helps clear breathing passage ways when you have a blocked nose. Peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil are great for clearing a blocked nose. Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that safely fights viruses and respiratory problems. Peppermint oil is to clear the nasal passageways.
Lavender oil drops on the pillow can be too strong on a pillow. But lavender oil in a diffuser is much nicer. Plus it reduces stress.
Yoga - Yoga before bed releases all the tension from the day and can help you sleep well. I follow a 20 minute Yoga for Bedtime by yogawithadriene (found on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7SN-d4qXx0 ), exercise which helps me fall asleep straight away. Any other yoga for bedtime stretches will do the job too.
Technology - This one is a tough one, I know. Using technology devices before bed can delay your body's internal clock which in turn suppresses the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep. So switch off all devices an hour before bed and give your brain and body clock time to unwind. I give this advice to the kids and parents I work with too.
Mindfulness - Meditation can help whilst going to sleep. Yes I know I said switch all technology off before bed. But there are no tapes anymore. 🤷♀️ So, we compromise with a quick switch on of the mediation app and headphones. However, healing and relaxation music can also sooth and relax your mind, just as well.
Writing/Journalling - Journalling before bed can help stop the chitter chatter of the mind called 'mind talk' before going to sleep. A gratitude journal also help you see all the positives that happened in your day. This can help you focus on the positives on transmute the negatives that happened in your day and can also help you put your day in perspective.
Taking care of your Mind and Emotions
Our immune system is not only compromised by poor nutrition and lack of exercise. There is another contributing factor. STRESS! And stress contributes to an increase in weight too. Yep, I know that one too. Even though I was eating a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping 8 hours a night, I was still putting on weight. Why? Because of an enormous amount of stress in my life which caused adrenal fatigue. Without going into too much detail about the stress aspect, I was dealing with an undiagnosed autistic child who could not go to school. So for many years life was extremely stressful whilst we figured it all out.
I would usually suggest reiki for dealing with the mind and emotions, especially anxiety but as we are socially distant at the moment, there are other options.
Journalling - As mentioned above journalling is a good way to release anxiety and stressful emotions.
Talking - Talk to someone about your worries and anxieties. It helps you get it off your chest and mind and when you talk out loud you hear your own words and can sometimes find a solution to your own problems.
Mindfulness - Mindfulness is not just meditation. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. So going on a mindful walk, listening to the sounds, taking the time to look around you, noticing the colours, and objects around you. Colouring, drawing, painting, cooking anything that brings you into the present moment is considered mindfulness. Reduce stress - boost the immune system.
Music - Music is relaxing. It can take you back to a time when you were happy, perhaps even when you were care free. Be mindful about what music you play, though. Listen to something you find uplifting rather than music that will take you back to your last break up, for instance.
Laughter - Laughter can boost the immune system by increasing the happy hormone called endorphins which in turn reduces pain as well. It can also boost the number of antibody-producing cells and enhance the effectiveness of T cells (as explained earlier).
Exercise - Exercise doesn't have to be working hard at the gym unless you are training as an athlete or body building. Exercise can just be enough to release endorphins, keep your joints and muscles working well and releasing strong difficult emotions such as anger, disappointment, anxiety and so on.
I hope you find this blog somewhat helpful. For a supportive and functional immune system there needs to be a balance between mind, body and emotions. When you get that balance right, and you may have to try a few things before you find what works best for you then you can lead a healthier and happier life.
Love and light to all and happy boosting ❤️