Winter is a challenging time for our body’s immune system, but the way we approach the arrival of winter presents even more challenges.
Viruses and germs are more likely to spread during the winter, increasing our chances of contracting a cold or flu.
London has just plunged into colder, shorter days, which means our immune system is working harder at this time of the year.
In this blog post, we analyse how we can protect ourself from illness by taking care of our immune system.
How Our Immune System Works
Your immune system is your body’s line of defense against illness and disease. You can only do so much to minimize your risks of coming into contact with harmful bacteria and viruses, so your body’s immune system takes over when you are exposed to these dangerous germs and helps to protect you from illness.
Your immune system produces white blood cells, which fight off infectious disease and foreign materials. When your immune system isn’t functioning properly or is depressed, it can’t produce enough white blood cells to fight off infection and you become sick. White blood cells fight off bacteria and infectious disease.
Another important element of your immune system is antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial peptides fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi – even to the point of battling cancerous cells. Your body naturally produces antimicrobial peptides, but you can take supplements to stimulate your body’s production of these little warriors. Antimicrobial peptides also have other immunomodulatory benefits.
Protect your Immune System Part 1 – Nutrition Planning
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure that your immune system is functioning at its best is to make sure your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs. Healthy eating habits are essential in winter as unhealthy habits can lead to depressed immune system responses.
You hear year-round that eating healthy is important. Eating healthy always is important, but it is a vital function to ensure that your immune system is functioning properly. Try to eat plenty of vegetables and protein, and reduce your carbohydrate and processed food intake. You don’t have to eat perfectly all of the time, but improving your eating habits meal-by-meal can produce direct results in how well your immune system deals with the challenges of winter.
In addition to focusing on your eating habits, consider taking nutritional supplements that help to boost your immune system and help your body to create good chemicals and get the most from your food:
· Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the most important supplements you can take to help boost your body’s immune system responses. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, and it is an important factor in several vital enzymatic reactions. You can improve your Vitamin C intake by eating more fruits rich in Vitamin C, or taking Vitamin C supplements.
· Zinc: Zinc plays a direct roll in how well your immune system functions. Zinc stimulates the white blood cells that fight off infection, and help keep your body healthy. Zinc and Vitamin C have a synergy that results in improved effectiveness when taken together.
· Histidine: To improve your Zinc intake, you must take Histidine, too. Histidine is an amino acid that enables your body to more effectively absorb Zinc. Taking Zinc supplements without Histidine may be ineffective because certain foods, especially vegetables, can interfere with Zinc absorption. Histidine counteracts that interference and enables your body to effectively process Zinc.
· Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 functions in your body as a powerful antibiotic. Vitamin D3 boosts your body’s production of antimicrobial peptides which destroy pathogenic organisms, such as the influenza virus. Vitamin D3 isn’t a cure for the flu, but it can help your body become more effective at combating the flu.
A detox program that includes colon hydrotherapy can help your body effectively rid itself of unwanted compounds and boost your body’s metabolism and immune system functionality. By removing toxic materials from your body and improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, colonic hydrotherapy can help boost your immune system.
But – don’t try to make too many changes too quickly, or your body will have a difficult time to adjust. Make transitions to healthier eating habits gradually so your body can become accustomed to the change. Don’t deprive yourself of the occasional treat, either, or you may find it more difficult to be healthy overall.
Protect your Immune System Part 2 – Stress Management
Stress makes it more difficult for your immune system to function properly, thus increasing your risk during the cold winter months when you are more likely to contract an illness. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, which weakens your white blood cells’ ability to fight viruses. Cortisol also increases blood pressure and blood sugar, increasing your body’s risk for other medical complications in addition to repressed immune function.
Reduce your stress levels to reduce your body’s production of cortisol, and boost your immune responses. Try to get a full night of sleep every night, and practice relaxation techniques to lower your overall stress levels. Take a magnesium supplement in conjunction with aerobic exercise to reduce cortisol levels. Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin C can also reduce the negative impact of cortisol, making it easier for your body to fight off illness and lowering your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Therapeutic, relaxing techniques can help lower your stress levels. These techniques include things like massage and music therapy. Aqualibria has a unique ambience with candles, fresh flowers, mood-enhancing scents and your choice of CDs and music to help you relax. Your personal electronic massager can literally help to melt your cares away, so treat yourself to a colonic hydrotherapy session at Aqualibria to reduce your stress and cortisol levels.
Finally, Your body responds to emotions. Reducing direct stress is only one part of the equation to keeping your body healthy and happy. Nurture yourself, spend quality time with friends and enjoy relaxing activities that make you happy. Keeping your mental state elevated has a direct impact on your stress and cortisol levels, which has a direct impact on how well your body’s immune system functions!
Protect your Immune System Part 3 – Natural Sunlight
Sunlight is an important part of your body’s immune system functionality. During the winter, we typically don’t get as much direct exposure to sunlight as you do during the summer. That is particularly the case during long, cold winters such as London is currently experiencing. Why does your body need sunlight?
When light enters your eyes, it stimulates your brain’s hypothalamus. The hypothalamus regulates automatic bodily functions, and controls metabolic functions. The hypothalamus plays a role in producing the stress hormone cortisol, as well as other vital hormone secretions. Finally, the hypothalamus controls the production of serotonin, the mood-enhancing brain hormone.
Direct exposure to sunlight in the form of sun shining on our skin stimulates our body’s production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts your body’s ability to absorb calcium and minerals that your body needs to function properly. Decreased sunlight and subsequently lower Vitamin D levels plays a direct role in our body’s ability to fight off colds and flu during the winter months when we don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.
Try to spend more time outdoors in the winter, even though its cold. Take a short walk outside during your lunch break, or quick walks before and after work. Any exposure to sunlight boosts your mood, helps to regulate your hypothalamus and can increase your body’s Vitamin D production – keeping you healthier even in the cold months. The exercise you’ll get on a quick walk also helps to boost your immune system!
Just as increased sunlight can play a direct role in your mood and energy levels, so can colonic hydrotherapy. Clients who undergo colonic hydrotherapy sessions at Aqualibria report improved metabolism, a surge in energy levels and enhanced mental clarity. Your body needs all the tools it can get to help keep your immune system functioning well during the long winter.
In doubt? Get tested
If you have reasons to believe your immune system may be compromised, at Aqualibria we offer the following diagnostic tools:
- Gut Immunology: a comprehensive stool test to evaluate immunological imbalance specific to gastrointestinal tract inflammatory disease activity.
- Immunogenomic Profile: a saliva swab to determine genetic variations in genes that modulate immune and inflammatory activity.
Please contact us for more details about either of the tests above.
The long winter has just started, and we begin to see enough cold and rain to reduce the amount of time we spend outdoors, in the sunlight. Your body’s immune system is all that stands between you and illness, so take these important steps to help your immune system function as best as it possibly can and keep you well. Use all of the tools you have to increase your body’s natural immune responses and cleanse unhealthy toxins from your system.
Miss Velile Ndebele RGN (Registered General Nurse), Colon Hydrotherapist I-ACT Instructor has been working in Healthcare in both the NHS public sector as well as private sector since 1994, working for major public hospitals as well as respected private healthcare companies like BUPA.
She is Founder and Clinical Director of Aqualibria Colon Hydrotherapy MediSpa since its inception in 2005.