What does the immune system do? How can a healthy immune system better your life?
I've never really taken much notice of my immune system before I got ill. The only time I'd hear the words 'Immune System' come up was when my parents would give me Vitamin C and say "this is for a healthy immune system". Without really knowing what it meant, I would take it and trust it would make me healthier or prevent me from getting a cold. Since contracting a PE and previously getting an illness on my holiday, I'm forever being told I'm immune-compromised and that I better strengthen my immune system otherwise I can get sick or attract another virus. This lead me to research what these doctors are actually saying, and hopefully the knowledge I've picked up can help you too! Especially with what is happening in the world with Covid-19, it's time to give your body the best chance to defend itself!
So what is the immune system and what does it do?
Your immune system defends the body from infection. It is made up of a complex network of cells, tissues and organs in your body. An under active or overactive immune system can cause health issues. The skin and mucous membranes are the first line of defence against bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances. They act as a physical barrier, and they also contain immune cells. When your skin has a cut, harmful microbes (tiny particles) can enter and invade your body. The cut triggers certain immune cells in the bloodstream that try to destroy the invaders. In an infection, white blood cells identify the microbe, produce antibodies to fight the infection, and help other immune responses to occur. They also 'remember' the attack. For example, when someone previously has chickenpox, they can't get it again as they're immune to it.
In short, your immune system assists the body by building a barrier against unwanted germs, diseases or viruses - so it's pretty important to have a healthy one.
This is what I'm currently doing to build my immune system:
Essential oils: It's not just what you put in your body, it's what you surround yourself with. Disinfecting and cleaning your home and surfaces is extremely important, however these antibacterial products can have harmful odours. To combat this, I use clean ingredient essential oils through my diffuser, in my cleaning detergent and household sprays. My favourite oils to use are peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender. My favourite blend oil is from Doterra and is called 'On Guard'. This blend includes Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils. All essential oils have antiseptic properties to some degree and many essential oils are especially good at treating harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses. Some essential oils can help to stimulate the immune system by increasing blood and lymph circulation and generally supporting the different body systems.
Vitamins and minerals: Some vitamins and minerals that have been proven to assist the immune system function are vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium, omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. Vitamin C is found in many foods and can be taken as a supplement. Foods that vitamin C is rich in is citrus fruits, tomato, strawberries and many more. Likewise, deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and an increased susceptibility to infection. Supplements of Vitamin D can help, but noting works as great as the sun! After all, sunshine is free right? Selenium plays an important role in the health of your immune system. This antioxidant helps lower oxidative stress in your body, which reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. Selenium can be found in brazil nuts and fish. That brings me to omega 3 and 6. Long chain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells. Omegas can be found in certain fish such as salmon and mackerel. In saying this, too much omega can actually suppress the immune system so don't over do it.
Food: It's important to fuel and treat your body correctly so it has the potential to protect itself. Foods that help the immune system, are rich in antioxidants and the vitamins/minerals mentioned above. Antioxidants found in foods protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body. Antioxidant rich foods include dark leafy greens and vegetables, dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries, and also green tea!
Exercise: Physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This reduces your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness. Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body's immune system cells that fight disease. Exercise also helps balance stress hormones such as cortisol. When cortisol is too high, it suppresses your immune function. (This is why workouts that are too intense or too long undermine your immune system.)
Over all, when you live a happy and healthy lifestyle your body responds positively!
Here are a few of my favourite supplements and oils:
If you've read all the way to here…I want you to set a goal to work toward strengthening your immune system daily! If you have any questions or want to share your improvements and experiences I'd love to hear all about it! Just send me a DM or sign up to my mailing system and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!
Lots of love,