When it comes to colds and flus, our first instinct is to blame the people around us for getting us sick. We blame the kids at school, our co-worker who came to work sick, the person sneezing beside you on the train, but the truth is whether we get sick or not is actually dependent on our own body, our own defense mechanisms not anyone else’s . We are all exposed to thousands of microorganisms and toxins on a daily basis, and whether they make us sick or not is really about how strong our natural immune system is.
The immune system is our internal defense system against the external environment. Its function is to maintain clear boundaries between “self” and “non-self”. Our immune system protects us against invading microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites; and toxins. It is our body’s internal environment that determines our susceptibility to infections. Our best defense against colds and flus is an optimally functioning immune system.
There are a number of ways that we can support a healthy immune system.
1) Eat whole, natural, real, organic, non-GMO foods
• Approximately 75-80% of our immune system is housed in our digestive tracts, therefore we can support a healthy immune system by eating a healthy diet that consists of whole, natural, real, organic, non-GMO foods and avoiding major inflammatory foods including wheat, cow’s dairy and refined sugar.
2) Take Probiotics
• Studies on the human microbiome demonstrate that a decrease in the diversity of the microflora of the digestive tract contributes to a lowered immune system. By taking a probiotic supplement, the healthy bacterial flora in the digestive tract, it increases the biodiversity of gut flora and lays a solid foundation of health which is needed to build a strong immune system.
3) Drink 2-3L of filtered water per day
• Our body is made up of 70% water therefore drinking water is essential for supporting our body’s functional health. Drinking 2-3L of filtered water per day will help to clean our cells by flushing out infections and toxins and replenishing clean fluid stores intracellularly and extracellularly.
4) Get good, quality sleep of 7-9 hours per night
• During your sleeping hours your body does a lot of its detoxification and repairing of cells. Getting enough, quality sleep is important for improving energy levels, recharging the brain, boosting the immune system, balancing hormones, regulating circadian rhythms and allowing the cells to repair themselves. Getting good, quality sleep of 7-9 hours per night will give the body the energy it needs to help fight off infections.
5) Exercise on a regular basis
• Our bodies were designed to move, we were not designed to have these sedentary lifestyles, where we sit at our desks all time and our mode of transportation is a motorized vehicle. Exercise helps with obtaining optimal body composition, improving brain function, improving circulation and oxygenation of tissues, boosting the immune system, boosting metabolism, balancing hormones, improving moods, increasing energy, promotes better sleep and has even been shown to increase longevity and happiness. Ideally we should do at least 30 minutes of movement that increases our heart rate and makes us sweat daily and we should do an activity that we enjoy.
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that enhance the immune system such as Echinacea, vitamin C and zinc, by improving a person’s resistance to infections that can be included in your daily regimen.
The benefits of building a healthy immune system go beyond helping you to fight off a cold or flu. It helps to prevent chronic disease and helps your body to fight off cancerous cells in your body.