Our immune systems are constantly working to identify and eliminate any bacteria or viruses that have entered our bodies and could make us unwell. It’s one of the most complex systems in the body and includes many different organs including the skin, respiratory system and even the gut. This means that there’s lots of ways that our immune system can be impacted – it also means that there’s many things we can do to actively improve the function of our immune system. Read on to find out what you can do this season to maximise your immunity and protect yourself against cold and flu.
Sleep is important for so many aspects of health, including immunity. That’s because cytokines (a type of cell crucial for the activity of our immune system) are released while we sleep, meaning that a lack of sleep can result in a lack of immune boosting cytokines. There’s lots of scientific evidence that demonstrates the negative impact of sleep deprivation on the immune system, so focussing on getting enough good quality sleep is a great place to start if you’re hoping to optimise your immune system this winter.
When our immune systems identify any potential toxins, it works to eliminate these from our bodies. It does this in a number of ways, but one of the best barriers we have to trap and eliminate viruses is our mucous. Staying hydrated helps to keep mucous thin, and can help to flush toxins out of the body - for example through a runny nose. As our immune system is also highly dependent on receiving nutrients from our blood stream - and our blood is mainly made up of water - staying hydrated helps to carry immune boosting nutrients to where they are needed.
Many of us take winter as an opportunity to slow down and snuggle up, but it’s important to keep physically active – especially if you’re hoping to strengthen your immune system. There’s lots of scientific evidence to support the role of exercise in reducing the symptoms and severity of illness. One of the ways it's able to do this is by increasing the rate of blood flow around the body and therefore increasing the circulation of immune cells, helping our body to detect infection earlier and have a better chance of fighting it off.
While managing stress is easier said than done, it’s a proven way to boost overall health - including the health of the immune system. That’s because when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off any unwanted bacteria or viruses is reduced, leaving us more susceptible to illness. While in the short term, the stress hormone cortisol can have an anti-inflammatory effect and contain the immune system, prolonged stress can mean that your body gets used to the increased levels of cortisol and the immune system becomes unaffected by it. This ultimately leaves the door open for increased inflammation.
"That’s because when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off any unwanted bacteria or viruses is reduced, leaving us more susceptible to illness."
There are certain nutrients that are particularly important for a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is especially important for our immune health thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to boost the production of immune cells. Deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection – making it vitally important to ensure we’re consuming enough.
Our skin can make Vitamin D when exposed to the sun – but in countries such as the UK, we don’t get enough sunlight to do this for most part of the year. While there are food sources of Vitamin D, such as eggs and fortified cereals, it’s difficult to consume enough from our diet alone. This is why government advice is to take a daily supplement containing Vitamin D – especially in the winter months.
Natural immune support
It’s increasingly recognised that to look after your immunity, you need to look after your overall health and wider wellness. Along with Vitamin D, other essential nutrients including Vitamin B12 and Iodine are also required to maintain good health and immunity.
Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® Immunity+ supplements contain all-natural and plant-based sources of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Iodine - combining all the wonderful benefits of seaweed with added immunity support.
Click here to explore the full range of products and to discover the wonder of seaweed for yourself.