Hello, and welcome back! Today’s post is all about ways that you can be building your immune system. If you missed my last post on how your immune system works, check it out here. Once you understand your immune system’s job, you will be ready to work on helping it out. While there are endless things you can be doing to support your immune system’s function, I selected my favourites to highlight today.
1. Get Adjusted 🙂
If you haven’t had a chance yet, take a few minutes to read my last blog post! Yes, chiropractic adjustments can help fire up your immune system. Your chiropractor isn’t scared of germs – go and get adjusted, especially when you feel like you are coming down with something!
Giving your body time to repair and restore itself is always important, and becomes even more imperative when fighting illness. While you are sleeping, your body is able to produce more white blood cells than during waking hours. Remember, white blood cells are your immune system cells, helping your body fight infection.
Ever find yourself waking up sweating after feeling ‘under the weather’ during the day? Sick or not, your body temperature will naturally be higher in the afternoon and evening. It is often at nighttime that your body is finally able to break into a full fever, enabling yourself to kill off invaders.
3. Wash your Hands with NON-antibacterial Soap
The human body is made of more bacterial cells than human cells. You have probably heard about your gut flora and how important it is to maintain healthy bacteria in your digestive system. What you may not realize is that you also have microorganisms living on your skin, many of which are beneficial to you. Your skin flora helps to protect you from harmful organisms by either making them compete for nutrients, secreting chemicals to harm them, or by stimulating your immune system. I tell you all of this to urge you to stay away from antibacterial soaps! According to the CDC, there is NO added benefit in using antibacterial soaps compared to regular soap for hand washing. In fact, using regular soap will do a good job of removing dirt and germs without stripping your skin’s protective flora and adding to the problem of creating super bugs.
That being said, get in the habit of washing your hands regularly! Hand washing helps in protecting you from getting infectious diseases, while preventing you from spreading them!
4. Be Good to your Gut
Between 70 and 80% of your immune system lives in your gut! Specifically, the bacteria in your gut flora interacts with your immune system, and will change when your body falls ill. Building a healthy immune system depends upon creating a healthy gut environment. Your gut flora is under constant assault. Things like antibiotics (which literally means life-killing), chlorinated water, long term medications like the birth control pill, stress and sugar will all negatively impact your gut health.
Diet is a very important factor in building and maintaining a healthy gut. Aiming for a diet rich in good fats will help keep inflammation at bay, and improve the functioning of your cells. Good fat sources are things like nuts and seeds, coconut oil, wild salmon, and grass-fed, free-range, organic meats. Alternatively, you want to avoid bad fats that lead to cellular inflammation and a weakened immune system. Things like vegetable oils, canola oil, and fried food should NOT be on your regular rotation!
When you do feel as though you are coming down with something, one of the most important things you can do is to AVOID ALL SUGAR! This includes hidden sugar sources like ketchup, sauces, and juices. Consuming sugar suppresses your immune system, compromising your white blood cells’ ability to fight infection. And it’s not just while you are enjoying your sugary snack – it takes hours for your immune system to fully recover!
5. Immune-Boosting Supplements
While it is always best to nourish your body through eating a diet of vitamin-rich foods, supplements can be helpful to top up your supply. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C plays a HUGE role in supporting and energizing your body’s immune system. Several of your immune system cells require this vitamin in order to do their job, pumping it out of your blood stream into the cells themselves. When you are sick, most of your vitamin C will be transported into your immune system cells! Your body cannot produce this vitamin, and any excess is excreted, so it’s a good idea to supplement with it.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is actually a hormone that your body manufactures. In order to make vitamin D, you require the sun on your skin. In Canada, it is incredibly difficult to get enough sun, so supplementing with vitamin D is a pretty good idea. Like vitamin C, this vitamin is required by your immune system to function at its best. Thus, supplementing is a good idea, particularly during the winter months.
- Oregano Oil – Oil of oregano is made from the herb you cook with. It has been shown to kill off unwanted bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus, and parasites. When I get that nasty feeling in my throat, I like to spray some COLFLEX in there to help fight off any brewing bacteria/viruses.
- Probiotic – Probiotics are supplements aimed at building a healthy gut flora. If you have ever taken antibiotics (that wipe out all bacteria in your gut – good and bad), it is particularly important to supplement with probiotics to cultivate a healthy gut.
6. Got sick? Let your body do its thing
Even if you do everything in your power to stay healthy, falling under the weather is a part of life. What should you do when you get sick? Let yourself express symptoms. Your symptoms are there for a reason! Whenever possible, you should avoid taking medication to suppress them. When you spike a fever, your body is raising its temperature to kill off unwanted viruses or bacteria. Sniffles or sneezes help to clear your airways, while coughing gets unwanted pathogens out of your lungs. If you take medication to suppress a cough, you could be increasing your chance of getting pneumonia or a more serious lung infection. Also, remember that each time you get sick your body will be building a stronger immune system to help you avoid getting sick next time!
There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.
-Henry David Thoreau
Did you find today’s post helpful? How are you going to begin building a stronger immune system today? Let me know in the comments below!