- Don’t smoke
- Have a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Exercise regularly but not excessively
- Reduce your emotional stresses and negative thinking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Improve gut health
- If you are a drinker then consume in moderation
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours and have a regular bedtime
- Have a full blood count to check out various function of your health
- If needed, take specific supplements, micronutrients or herbal remedies
- Avoid infections: wash hands, avoid crowds and polluted areas
And in a bit more detail, this is what we found in our research…
MINIMIZE EMOTIONAL STRESS
“When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
Emotional and to an extent physical stress causes increase in an adaptogenic hormone called cortisol. “The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).” https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html
Poor diet that is low in fresh fruit and vegetables makes you susceptible to many diseases including cancer.
“Malnutrition breaks down the immune functions by suppressing the immune system. The dietary factors that cause harm to immunity functions are either deficient intake of macro-nutrient elements (fat, carbohydrate, protein) or deficiency in some specific micronutrient elements (vitamin, mineral, water).”
“It has been stated that, probiotics strengthen the mucosa defense systems and effects on immune stimulation. Probiotic bacteria stimulate the immune system of host, by effecting specific immunity and natural immunity. It has also been stated that, the presence of probiotic bacteria in viable cell’s intestines, stimulates and strengthens the immune system”
A variety of mushrooms are believed to have immune-improving properties.
From Harvard medical School article: There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube. However, the impact of these immune system changes on the health of animals is less clear, and the effect of similar deficiencies on the human immune response has yet to be assessed.
“Multiple micronutrient deficiencies are common throughout the world, with the likelihood increasing with age. Tailored supplementation based on the specific needs of each age group may help to provide an adequate basis for optimal immune function.”
For a guide to supplements for the immune system see our fact leaflet on our website.
In addition to micronutrients or supplements, there are several herbs that are believed to have a beneficial effects on the immune. Please check our website or consult a qualified herbalist.
A lot has been learnt in the recent years about the role of the digestive system on our immunity. The function of microbiota influences our immune system cannot be overstated.
“The intestinal wall is the primary interface between the gut microbiota and our body. It acts as a dynamic barrier that isolates our body from gut microbes but allows desirable interactions to take place.” “Diet influences many aspects of the microbiota-immune system crosstalk, including, for example, the permeability of the intestinal barrier, the types of microbes targeted by IgA, or whether TH17 cells become beneficial or harmful.” “A healthy interaction between our immune system and the gut microbiota is crucial for the maintenance of our body’s homeostasis and health. Imbalances in the gut microbiota may dysregulate immune responses and lead to the development of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune dysfunctions. This is why it is important to take good care of our gut. And this starts with what we eat.”
Improve your gut health with prebiotics and probiotics. Include as many of the following as possible: vegetable fibre, avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics and stomach acid reducing medications. Consume good quality kefir, yogurt, cider vinegar, fermented vegetables like cabbage, miso, and probiotic supplements. Avoid excessive alcohol and beers overloaded with yeast.
“Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases.” This may benefit the immune system indirectly to function better.
Many Japanese studies have shown that exercising especially outdoors in parks and forests helps to reduce emotional stress, improves immunity, helps to balance the endocrine system, reduces blood pressure, regulates glucose metabolism, and many other benefits.
However, excessive exercise regime without time for recovery can leave you depleted and run down.
Many studies have shown that poor quality of sleep or insufficient sleep has profound effect of health. Complete and prolonged depravation of sleep will even lead to death. Poor sleep increases the secretion of stress hormones and in particular cortisol. Persistently elevated cortisol levels will have detrimental effects of health including cancel, blood pressure, diabetes, mood changes, poor immunity and many other physiological effects.
“Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye. Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond.” www.https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
People have different techniques to help you relax. One technique is to get a burst of endorphins, the “feel good hormone”. This can be achieved with rigorous and sustained exercise. Relaxation techniques include Yoga, meditation, listening to music, a walk in nature, breathing exercises, a massage, and stating the obvious; having sex!
HERBS AND OTHER NUTRIENTS
Herbs reputed to have immune enhancing properties include:
Echinacea, Andrographis, Elderberries, Holy basil, Astragalus, Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) although not a herb, Honey, garlic, good quality mountain or Greek honey enriched with Thyme or manuka, ginger, turmeric, olive leaf, oregano, turkey tail fungus, Ashwagandha, green tea, and perhaps many others.
PDF / downloadable version of this post: https://www.bloomsbury-osteopathy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/How-to-improve-your-Immune-System.pdf
Always consult a qualified practitioner before taking supplements, herbs or making changes to your lifestyle. If you an on medication from your doctor then seek his advice before taking any herbs and supplements.
This information leaflet is not meant to be used for any treatment or management program.