No one loves getting sick, but as the weather starts picking up and summer holidays are being booked, now is a pretty rubbish time to have to sniffle away the days in your bed. If you keep getting sick but don’t know why, below are some top tips to keep your immune system top notch so you can make this summer your best one to date!
In addition to the positive impact on your immune system, pro-biotics are crucial to the wellbeing of your digestive system. Digestive systems are the second largest part of our neurological system – this is why it’s called the second brain! So it’s no wonder that by having a healthy gut, your immune system can function to its full ability. Digestive experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be around 86% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. By keeping a good balance of bacteria in your gut, you’ll increase protection against disease, as well as absorption of minerals and nutrients .
The power of sour! Sour foods, like apple cider vinegar and fermented vegetables, contain a lot of good bacteria but also contain certain types of acids, such as gluconic acid and acetic acid. These help regulate the pH in your body which supports the growth of pro-biotics in your system. Adding sauerkraut several times a week to your diet is a good way of getting enough pro-biotics. You can also try unpasteurised dairy products and kombucha tea which is a delicious fermented tea – absolutely packed with the pro-biotics you need for your immune system!
What kills pro-biotics? Nowadays we are so aware of allergies, and as a result our food is processed and packed in over-sterile environments. By killing the bacteria in foods, we are also destroying the good bacteria that is crucial for our immune systems. Louise Avery, founder of L.A. Brewery and ‘Living Tea’ recipe book, says that “we need to put ‘live’ foods back into our body to replace all the nutrients and digestive enzymes that it needs to function.” .
Eat Less Sugar
Sounds like a tough feat, but trust us, it’s worth it! Studies have shown that when you eat 100g of sugar, your white blood cells are 40% less effective at battling infection for up to 5 hours – yuck! This is because when sugar enters your body, it fights Vitamin C for space in your white blood cells due to their similar chemical structure. Unfortunately for anyone with a super-sweet tooth, white blood cells use vitty C to combat bacteria and viruses. So, to fortify your immune system, reduce your sugar intake!
Get enough sleep
The average person needs 6-8 hours of sleep a night to function to the best of their ability. By this, we don’t mean just get through the day and complete all the tasks on your to-do list, but to give your body enough time to recover and recuperate from the day; most importantly, to let your immune system do its thang.
The immune system is pretty complex. It’s made up of different cells and proteins which destroy any foreign bacteria and viruses that might enter your body. When you sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines (some of which actually help you sleep!) These cytokines are in serious demand when you’re under the weather, so if you’re not getting as much sleep as you should, your immune system cannot function fully.
Have trouble sleeping? Create a bedtime ritual. This could include anything that makes you relaxed in the evening – a candle lit bath or evening snuggles in front of the TV. It’s also worth keeping an eye on your eating and drinking habits. Try not to go to bed hungry or too stuffed, and stay away from sugar or caffeine in the afternoon!
The miracle nutrient for your immune system! You might be aware that Vitamin D is also good for your bones, but what if we told you it is vital for your hormones too? Its active form controls more genes and bodily functions than any other hormone known. With your bodily functions working as effectively as possible, your immune system will be at its peak to fight off any diseases.
So how can you increase your Vitamin D intake? If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that’s warm and sunny all year round, you’ll be able to absorb enough from the sun. But if you’re a fellow brit, either it’s an excuse to go on holiday more or adding Vitamin D-rich foods into your diet. Try including fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, mushrooms and eggs (the yolk is the bit full of Vitty D!) into your meals. Supplements are also a straightforward way to get more Vitamin D in your diet.
One of the most significant benefits of Echinacea is its impact on recurring infections and illnesses. Echinacea increases the number of white blood cells in your body which are responsible for fighting infection and viruses! This is especially useful when it comes to respiratory infections – these can be anything from the common cold to tonsillitis. These type of infections are extremely common and can often be difficult to fight off. More importantly, a respiratory infection can lower your immune system for a long time, even after your symptoms have worn off. Studies have shown that if you take a few drops Echinacea every day, you’ll be able to prevent illnesses better and recover from them quicker!
Don’t fancy taking an extract or drinking Echinacea juice? We love this Pukka Elderberry and Echinacea tea! Yummy and immune boosting!
words by Katie Hafner