Supercharge your Immune System
Author: Riley Pearce
Director of Social Media
Flu season is in full effect, allergy season is around the corner, and there is, of course, the coronavirus dominating the health headlines right now. The chances of you getting sick and feeling run down at this time of year are especially high. Fortunately our bodies are equipped with an immune system that can be strengthened by our daily decisions.
Our immune system is our body’s way of protecting us from ailments and some diseases. It keeps the body strong when a foreign invader tries to break us down is one of the many systems that makes it possible for us to live as long as we do.
As with many of the complex systems in our body, what we eat, how we sleep, and what activities we take part in can all strengthen or weaken the immune system. Even the simple fact of aging will inevitably take its toll on the strength of the immune system.
For example, what we eat and therefore the bacteria that we promote in the gut can have a major impact on the strength of our immune system. In fact 60-70% of the immune cells actually exist in the gut. This makes your gut the mission control for all immune activities.
Research has observed that there are specific types of foods that help to promote the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria, and the growth of bacteria that will actually help to eliminate unhealthy gut bacteria. The foods that are the best for this are fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and fermented yogurts.
If you want to specifically boost the immune boosting bacteria in the gut, research shows that a group of bacteria known as the R-1 lactic acid bacteria are particularly effective in this area of gut health. The best source of this type of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is fermented, plain yogurt known as kefir. This type of bacteria has been shown to boost the activity of Natural Killer cells (NK cells), which are the cells that circulate the body in search of those foreign invaders we mentioned before.
If you have a dairy intolerance or if you don’t enjoy yogurt, you can take a LAB probiotic supplement. Some studies have even shown that by taking a LAB probiotic, subjects see an increase in their tolerance for dairy.
Besides eating fermented foods, you’ll also want to follow all of the classic recommendations for good health. These include:
- Getting fresh air
- Spending time in the sun to boost vitamin D stores
- Drinking lots of water to help flush out toxins
- Eating whole foods, focusing on nutrient rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and locally raised meat
- Avoid smoking, excessive drinking, processed foods, and sedentary behaviour
- Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night
- Keep stress levels low by practicing meditation, going for walks in nature, and other healthy and natural stress-reducing strategies
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
- Wash your hands**
This flu season may seem more ominous than most flu seasons. Luckily we have a lot of research on how we can supercharge our immune systems so that we keep our risk of getting sick very low.