Immune System Support
As we shift into the fall and winter seasons, it’s a great time to talk about how to support our immune health. Our innate immune systems are constantly at work to keep us healthy. They process toxins in our environments (air, food, products that we use, etc), fight off infections that we come in contact with (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites), and continually audit the cell production in our bodies in order to clean up any dysregulated cells (autoimmune and cancer cells). We have the ability to either strengthen or get in the way of this natural process, by either providing the right building blocks or creating road blocks or burden.
Our body comes in contact with a variety of opportunistic pathogens daily. These can include bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts and fungi. We are rarely aware of these pathogens, because our bodies are able to fight them off effectively without us ever being the wiser. But inevitably, we will eventually ‘catch something’ when we are a bit run down, and are then forced to slow down, take better care of ourselves, and recover. By understanding how to support our immune system, we can aim to reduce the frequency of colds and flus we experience as our body can take care of the exposures more efficiently.
Arguably, the most important part of supporting immune health, is decreasing factors that can burden it, so that your immune system can do its job (like the expert that it is!). Anything that burdens our immune system, uses up crucial energy needed to wage an appropriate immune response. An unburdened immune system is able to fight off infections, clean up debris and manage our inflammatory response.
Here are a few key points to help understand what affects your immune system, and how to best prevent, and overcome exposure to pathogens.
How to boost and support our immune function:
Rest. Our sleep is a time where we allocate much of our energy toward cleaning up and repairing tissues. This is an extremely important time for the lymphatic system, specifically our glymphatic system, which nourishes and protects our central nervous system.
Nourish. A varied, nutrient dense diet is needed to provide the building blocks for all the vital reactions that take place in our bodies. If lifestyle and dietary factors impede our absorption of nutrients, certain supplements, and IV therapy are very helpful in restoring nutrient levels. Here are a few options to consider:
Vitamin C. A water soluble nutrient, that helps protect healthy cells by stimulating production of white blood cells. WBCs defend against bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Vitamin A. A fat soluble nutrient, and potent antioxidant. It works to strengthen the integrity of mucous membranes, and the immune response at the point of entry for pathogens (digestive and urogenital systems). Vitamin A stimulates antibody response when needed.
Probiotics. Contribute to healthy gut flora that is intricately tied to our immune health. When healthy flora is adequate in the gut, it makes it hard for unhealthy bacteria to inhabit it and cause harm.
Vitamin D. Considered both a fat-soluble vitamin, and a hormone. Important in decreasing risk of auto-immunity as well as infections.
Lysine. An amino acid that helps oppose the replication or proliferation of viral pathogens.
Echinacea. A powerful plant that helps stimulate an immune response from the body. It is helpful in overcoming any infections (bacterial or viral).
Zinc. An essential trace mineral that the body doesn’t make, therefore we much get it from out diet. It is important for both development of immune cells, and function of our immune system.
Move your body. The lymphatic system serves as a channel for delivery of nutrients and antibodies to tissues in need, as well washes away wastes. Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system by improving circulation, as well as physically moving the tissues. Massage therapy is another great way to move the lymphatics and support drainage. Adequate hydration is needed to allows substances to move through the lymphatic system efficiently.
Causes of burden on the immune system:
Stress. Stress and the cortisol response can directly inhibit our immune system’s ability to effectively wage a response. There are many tools to help relax the nervous system, and calm the mind. Remember to check in with yourself, and apply your best self-care tools when you feel the tension creeping up.
Poor sleep. This is the body’s time to rest, recover, and clean itself up.
Poor diet. Sugar, processed foods, and excess do our bodies more harm than good. They contribute no nutrient value, and create additional work for our bodies to do in neutralizing harmful chemicals and eliminating what are bodies don't need. Sometimes even healthy foods are not well metabolized by certain people, so it’s important to listen to your body, and take note of what works for you.
Toxicity. Air pollutants, chemicals in foods and products, pesticides and preservatives, drugs and alcohol, all rely on the body’s ability to effectively detoxify in order to avoid long term damage to our cells.
Inflammation. Chronic inflammation taxes our immune system on a regular basis, leaving it less strong when an immune response is needed. Diet is a key aspect in managing this.
Pathogens. Bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fungi, and parasites all require a strong immune system to efficiently neutralize and eliminate them from our system. Without a strong immune system, these pathogens and the inflammation that they create, can continue to burden our systems.
If you are looking for more guidance in how to support your immune system this fall and winter, don't hesitate to book in for an appointment at Clementine Natural Health. We are here to support you in living your healthiest life!