When you think of your immune system, what do you picture?
It’s a hard thing to visualize, given that it’s a complex network of cells, organs, tissues and proteins spread throughout the body. But imagine it as a superhero – constantly fighting to protect us.
How does the immune system work?
It’s the foundation of our mental and physical health. At various levels, it defends against foreign invaders in the form of toxins, bacteria and disease-causing micro-organisms. It starts with the skin, as well as sweat, saliva, tears, nasal hairs and even earwax, which all provide an initial barrier against pathogens. If invaders get through any of that, they face a battle with immune cells and proteins that aim to destroy them. Failing that, the final line of defense involves two types of white blood cells with slightly different roles, including using antibodies.
The gut connection:
Did you know that 70-80 per cent of our immune system is actually in our gut? So, naturally, the gut microbiome and immune cells are hugely influential and supportive of one another. And keeping our microbiome healthy is vital for a strong immune system. What we eat has a huge effect on the type and diversity of bacteria in our gut, which are at their best when we provide them with high-fiber plant-based nourishment.
How to support your immune system? Here are our 5 top tips:
01 Eat well
A healthy, balanced diet includes all the vitamins and micronutrients your system needs, including plenty of high-fiber fruit, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean proteins.
02 Stay hydrated
Drinking your 2L a day is crucial for overall health, but water has a particularly important role in immune health: it helps the lymphatic system distribute infection-fighting cells around your body.
03 Be physically active
Besides the well known health benefits, regular exercise stimulates immune cells and promotes better sleep, and less stress and anxiety, all of which help keep your system in top shape.
04 Get enough sleep
Sufficient, high-quality sleep every night strengthens and balances your immune system so that it’s ready and able to do its job. A lack of sleep has been proven to interfere with its function.
05 Reduce stress
Meditate, practice mindful walking, or say no more often – do whatever works for you to bring down stress levels, which can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.
Further explore the topic of weak immune system with our audio and video content pieces. They offer holistic solutions and expert advice, and will empower you to take an active and preventative role in your health.