With autumn just around the corner, so is the cold and flu season. Therefore now more than ever it is important to boost your immunity naturally. Your immune system never rests, it is constantly searching for cells that show signs of infection or cancerous changes. It doesn’t only stop sniffles away – it also protects you against potentially deadly diseases like H1N1 flu or cancer. Having a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of sleep and exercise, good stress control, healthy, nutritious diet and regular hand washing routine are best protective tactics that you can adopt.
1. Ensure you have plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep negatively affects immune function as:
– The body slows its production of disease-fighting white blood cells.
– It impairs the activity of natural killer cells and macrophages.
– During deep, restful sleep, the body releases powerful immune-enhancing compounds, such as interferon.
2. Do gentle exercise
Science has proven that keeping active on five or more days of the week—increases immune function. Moderate exercise increases the numbers of all types of white blood cells and makes natural killer cells become more active and efficient. Don’t overdo it, though, as a very strenuous physical activity, such as marathon running, can reduce immunity and increase inflammation.
3. Reduce stress
Numerous studies show that the more stressed you are, the more likely you are to catch a cold and the symptoms can be more severe. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce stress in your day-to-day life. In addition to its immune-boosting effects, regular exercise is a potent stress reliever. So are meditation, deep relaxation exercises, a warm bath, walk in the park or by the sea, massage or watching an uplifting movie. Researchers have even found that the simple process of journal writing about stressful incidents improves immune function.
4. Choose immune-boosting foods
Avoid refined, processed, sugary foods as it significantly lowers the immune system defences. Autumn foods are among the most valuable in terms of nutrition. Eat a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, which provide essential antioxidants and nutrients. You also need high-quality proteins and healthful fats, especially monounsaturated fats (like extra virgin olive oil), to repair tissues and create healthy immune cells. Probiotics can boost the immune system and can be found in yoghurt with live beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, tempeh, soy sauce, miso or sauerkraut.
5. Treat infections promptly
Lingering infections, such as respiratory or gum infections, impair immunity. Whenever possible treat diseases with herbs, avoiding the use of antibiotics, as they ultimately weaken immune function.
6. Avoid toxins
Toxic chemicals impair immune function and trigger the formation of cell-damaging free radicals. Toxins are everywhere in our environment these days. Try to avoid as many as possible by choosing organically grown foods, as well as free-range meats and dairy products (produced without antibiotics or other chemicals). Use natural alternatives to toxic products in your home, garden and workplace.
7. Stock up on vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for immunity as well as bone health. In Ireland, the sun is too low in the sky between October and April for our skin to produce it. Therefore we need to supplement it with diet – oily fish (wild salmon, sardines and mackerel), dairy products or take a daily vitamin D product.
Boost Your Immunity Naturally with Chinese Medicine
8. Mushrooms Muster Immunity
In Traditional Chinese Medicine mushrooms have been renowned for thousands of years for their potent healing benefits. Medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake, maitake and reishi, have long been regarded as longevity tonics. Research is proving that these beneficial fungi are powerful allies for strengthening the immune system.
While all medicinal mushrooms benefit the immune system, each variety contains different compounds that work in various ways to enhance immunity. Therefore, try to use an assortment of mushrooms to provide a broad base of immune support.
9. Try moxa (moxibustion) to boost your immunity
Mugwort herb has been used alongside acupuncture for over 3 thousand years. “A disease that may not be treated by acupuncture may be treated by moxibustion,” according to the Lingshu (Miraculous Pivot, or Spiritual Pivot), one of 2 parts of Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), the earliest book written on Chinese Medicine, compiled around 305-204 B.C.
Moxibustion increases our body’s ability to absorb the nutrients, warms the body, brings more qi and blood flow, improves our energy, and ultimately boosts our immune system. Find out more about moxibustion here.
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