One of the philosophies of Naturopathic medicine is Prevention Over Cure. Along with adequate hygiene, we can support the function of the immune system so our bodies are able to fight off infection.
Below are our tips for naturally supporting your immune system through the Winter months:
- Include lots of fresh vegetables, spices and herbs in your diet – these foods are nutrient-dense and ensure your body gets its daily dose of vitamins and minerals. They also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, which have anti-disease properties! You’ve probably heard us say it before – EAT THE RAINBOW! We love and live by this saying, as it truly is the easiest way to ensure you are getting a range of nutrients from your foods. Our favourite immune-boosting veggies, herbs and spices are: ginger, garlic, onions, coriander, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, carrot, pumpkin and green leafy vegetables!
- Manage your stress and ensure adequate time for rest – numerous studies are now showing that stress can greatly affect the physiological function of the body. Stress puts pressure on the nervous system, plays havoc with blood sugar regulation, disrupts bowel function, alters sleeping habits, and reduces immune system function. We all know that situation of coming down with a cold or flu after a stressful week of long hours, travelling or moving house. Chronic (ongoing) stress also places a bigger demand on the body’s nutrient supplies (most notably, the body burns through B vitamins when we are stressed). Ensure you have stress management strategies in place, and allow yourself time to rest, this includes 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- An exercise routine – exercise increases circulation, which enables nutrients and blood to be supplied to all areas of the body. Exercise also helps to balance stress hormones (which when too high, can reduce immune system function). Our favourite forms of exercise include relaxing Yin yoga classes, beach walks on the weekend, and family cricket games in the park.
- A little bit of sunshine each day – to ensure your vitamin D levels stay optimal. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy immune system.
- Hygiene – Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections, and can reduce infection rates by up to 40%.
- Nutritional and herbal supplements – to assist the body in optimal immune function. These can be particularly beneficial in people who live busy and stressful lives (students, parents, full-time workers, and business owners), and individuals with chronic health conditions. Ask your practitioner about nutritional and herbal supplements to support your immune system function!
There are many considerations for optimal immune system functioning. The immune system requires specific nutrients, hormones and optimal gut health to function effectively (70% of your immune system is in your gut!). Genetic variations can also play a role in immune function. When imbalances take place in the body, the immune system can either become underactive or overactive. Autoimmune conditions are very common, and develop when the immune system is overactive.
How do we correct and balance the immune system?
- Nutrient status: our naturopaths will work with your GP, or write referrals to ensure that all nutrients which play a vital role in the functioning of a healthy immune system are optimal. Our naturopaths will also look at what is happening with your immune system, and potential inflammation in the body.
- Functional pathology testing: after taking a detailed case history, our naturopaths will evaluate which pathology testing is important for you. This could be looking at stool testing to gain an understanding of the level of dysbiosis, investigating food intolerances or allergies which may be triggering you, or investigating hyperpermeability of the gut (leaky gut).
- Diet and lifestyle evaluation: what you eat and how you live will also play a vital role in healthy immune function.
If you are experiencing a long term immune problem please book your free 15 minute discovery call with our Naturopath. If you are feeling under the weather now and would like some immune support book a $10 acute consultation.
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- the gut-immune system connection
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