In general, your immune system does a great job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails – a germ penetrates successfully and makes you sick. How do you build up your immune system? Or can’t you? Here’s the lowdown from the lab.

What can you do to improve your immune system?

The immune system is complex. It’s not a single entity. To function well, all its components must be in balance (much like your car’s engine). It’s so complex, in fact, that researchers have yet to understand its complete workings and how they’re affected by lifestyle. So the news from the lab is – further studies are needed.

Don’t lose heart, say the scientists at Harvard Medical School. Lifestyle choices definitely impact on the immune system – those busy men in the lab are simply trying to discover how. ‘In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand,’ the report advises.

So, Dear Immune System, how can I help?

Type ‘Boost your immune system’ in the subject line of any search engine and you’ll be tripping over the information, from the wild to the useful. Some of it was compiled here at Flora Force, based on sound medical research. (Check our blog posts to find our armory of information.)

Immune system health is a topic we’re passionate about, naturally! We’ve extracted some of the very best advice to help you do the best for yours.

Choose a healthy lifestyle

Every part of your body, including your immune system, works better if you:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Ward off infection by washing your hands regularly, cooking foods properly.
  • Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.

Talking diet

Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Bad diet equals poor combat skills. There is some evidence that people whose diets lack micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C and E, have ‘altered’ immune responses. Research is ongoing…

So, until the facts are conclusive, what can you do? If you prefer white bread to wholegrain and you’re not a fan of veggies or fruit, your diet probably isn’t providing you with all your micronutrient needs. Please follow our simple dietary advice, and take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to keep yourself fighting fit. (And please choose fresh above fast foods!)

Herbs and other supplements

The number of ‘immune boosters’ on shop shelves is overwhelming. Which can you trust? Demonstrating whether a herb, or any substance for that matter, can enhance immunity is, as yet, ‘a highly complicated matter,’ the report states. It’s an issue that must be approached with gravity. And we do…

Tried-and-trusted Flora Force Echi-MuneTM is an unadulterated, whole-herb remedy that combines echinacea with other herbs to support your immune system and help you recover quickly after illness. You can get Echi-MuneTM online from our online partner Faithful to Nature.

CAUTION

Consult your health practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.

  • Always consult your health practitioner before taking any herbal supplements, especially if you are taking other medication, and especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Age and your immune system

As you get older, your immune system becomes less able to fight infections and diseases. While the real reason for this is unknown, there is a school of thought that suggests the thymus produces fewer infection-fighting T cells as we age; another asserts that our bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the immune system.

Our diet changes as we age – we tend to eat a smaller variety of foods. So it’s not unlikely that we end up lacking important micronutrients and trace minerals that are obtained from or supplemented by diet. Supplementation may be beneficial as we age.

We recommend healthy eating and supplementing with Flora Force Gotu Kola. This pick-me-up helps support immune function and also improves memory. Get it from our online partner Faithful To Nature.

What about stress?

It’s now widely recognised that the mind and body are interconnected. According to Harvard’s medical researchers, ‘A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives and even heart disease are linked to the effects of emotional stress.’

It’s difficult to pinpoint the relationship between stress and the immune system. What exactly is stress? One person’s stressful situation is another’s spur forward. And how accurately do you interpret the amount of stress your body is actually experiencing? Scientists can only measure bodily reactions that may reflect stress, such as a raised pulse (although that could also reflect other factors).

At Harvard, ‘chronic stress, such as that caused by relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, or sustained challenges to perform well at one’s work,’ is under the microscope. Scientists are working to establish the effects, if any, of ongoing stress on the immune system.
We know that stress can affect sleep, and that too little sleep increases your chance of succumbing to sickness.

Our advice? Try to get your stress levels under control.

Exercising for immunity

Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight and protects against a variety of diseases. Researchers believe it promotes a healthy immune system.

Moderate regular exercise is a Good Thing for your immune system and health in general.

So, stay strong, eat well, exercise, remember to chill and do it all naturally. We’re here to help you keep the bugs at bay.

Acknowledgements & Photo credits

Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.

References

  1. About Health. How to boost your immunity year round. http://www.beaconhealthadvice.com/boost-your-immunity-year-round/
  2. Harvard Health Publications. How to boost your immune system: Tips to fight disease and strengthen immunity. Harvard Medical School. 2014 (updated June 2016). http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

Photo credits

  1. Photo courtesy of WerbeFabrik / Pixabay.com