Let me set the scene, 20 years old, student New Year party staying up all night to getting on a coach for 18 hrs to go on a skiing holiday drinking all week (I can neither confirm or deny that this person was me) surprisingly towards the end of the week I started to feel something wasn’t right (the sweat pouring profusely off my head and the uncontrollable shakes were a slight giveaway).
Obviously, I (damn) had caught some nasty bug that was ruining my holiday and had absolutely nothing to do with the lack of sleep, continuous drinking and being out in the cold all day. Must just be the germs?!?
With winter setting in and our environment becoming harsher temperature and weather wise I thought it would be pertinent to highlight some tips on the health and adaptability of our immune system.
Now you you’d be forgiven for forgetting about our body’s own natural defences against the outside world (given the way our media portrays us as old buildings,barely standing, in the path of a huge great demolition crew that is any and all disease) but the human immune system is a wonder to behold. From the ability of a mothers breast milk to actually change the content of immune cells within it to aid her babies own immature immune system to the body raising the core temperature in order to make the bacteria inhabiting it less able to thrive, there are millions of incredible functions our body innately deploys to keep us alive and thriving.
Now the hard truth (in my best investigative reporter on Panorama voice) is that there is no special food, drink, detox tea or magic bullet that will boost your immune system. However it can be influenced to the positive in a similar way to exercising. Our immune system needs exposure to our environment, to interact with all the microbes, minerals, soil, chemicals and so forth so it can learn and improve.
Much like the first time on January the 1st (or 2nd if NYE was a big night!) when you decide ‘im gonna beat the Xmas flab and get fit. So on go the running shoes and inappropriately tight lycra and jogging commences. Then it gets hard. This is the sweet spot where your nervous system is adapting to the exercise and if you push through the next time will not be as difficult.
So the following tips are here as a guide (disclaimer: as always consult your healthcare practitioner before doing these if you are at all unsure) for you to help support your immune system and help it as best as you can:
- Get out in nature everyday I know the weather sucks, but when we get outside it actually helps our immune system get a kind of ‘software update’ from all the microbes etc we are exposed to.
- Heal your gut: Your gut and immune system are very closely linked (it is thought 2/3rds of our immune cells live in our gut), for more info on this please let us know
- Break a sweat your going to see this in pretty much every health tip series I give you! exercise for sure boosts immunity
- Give your mouth (and gut a break) this links into #2, taking a long break from eating (12-16-48hrs) will not leave you starving, in fact some research suggests that fasting can increase immune system function. Start with 12 first.
- Supplement with Vitamin D we need it, we get it from the sun, we live in the UK. Need i say more? Get advice before starting supplementation.
- Sleep it off 7-9 hours is optimal (one poor nights sleep has been shown to reduce our cancer fighting cells by 70%!)
- Don’t be a chemical brother (or sister) There are chemicals all around us, you need to understand those that are not harmful (oxygen) and those that are (Glyphosate very commonly used pesticide that is indicated in a lot of cancers, auto-immune disease etc). Do your research and understand what you expose and ingest in your body.
- Get your spine checked to be clear in Chiropractic we do not have the data scientifically to say that adjusting the spine boosts immunity. We know that the nervous system has a close link to the immune system. However for those that come under care we observe most of them getting sick less often, needing less pills and drugs and leading healthier lives.
Have a great week and see you in clinic…
Dr Gareth Ward DC MChiro Chiropractor