The Non-Boring Guide to Building a Resilient Immune System

These days we are constantly bombarded with information about our immune systems.  Eating unhealthily, being inactive, lack of sleep, and constant stress can all contribute to a weak immune system (6). Keeping healthy takes a bit of extra effort… or does it? Taking care of yourself extends beyond the supplements you take and the foods you eat. Of course, a good, balanced intake of your essential vitamins and minerals go a long way, but there are so many other ways to build resilience in the face of all those little nasties which can make you sick. 

What is an Immune System?

It’s complicated. There are more than a few components of your immune system; they are white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, bone marrow, and the thymus (2). And that may as well be Greek to those of us who cannot speak Greek. The point is that with so many aspects of your body at play, you need to know that your daily multivitamin may just be scratching the surface. This complex network of cells and proteins, which fight off infection, are also affected by your stress levels, how much you sleep, your nutrition, and whether you manage to get in some exercise (3). But this is well known, though. So, what else can you do to keep healthy?

The Link Between Stress and Our Immune System

When you are under constant stress, your adrenal glands produce cortisol. This helps you fight or flee when there’s a tiger in the room, but when there’s no tiger, and you’re still under constant stress, this hormone eventually lowers your ability to fight off infection (1). You may not live in constant terror, but constant low-grade stress will increase your body’s cortisol levels. In the long term, you will be prone to higher blood pressure, low energy, and low-quality sleep (1).

Stave Away Stress

So, you’re eating your leafy greens, sleeping like sleeping beauty, and staying hydrated? Good. But there’s more still to be done. Some light-hearted activities, escapism, a healthy gut, some gratitude, and time out, may assist with lowering your cortisol levels. Here are a few ways to support your immune system, which you may not have thought about.

stave away stress

Get your giggle on – having a laugh is one of the best ways to destress. Whether you go see a comedy show, watch your old favourites, search some skits on YouTube, or phone a funny friend, some aimless lollygagging works wonders to keep your cortisol levels in check. Some days it’s harder to laugh than others but getting to know your favourite comedians is the golden ticket.

Throw a puppy party – well, maybe not literally, but anything to do with your pets that doesn’t involve trying to give them medication is sure to lift your mood. The time you spend getting to know them and appreciate them is priceless. Take your dogs for a walk in the park, throw a ball around, or marvel at your cat’s response to catnip to ease your stress. 

Fun with fermenting – the link between the gut and the immune system has become a hot topic. Scientists have found that a balanced gut helps regulate the immune system (4), and fermented foods can be helpful in this regard (9). Get your hands on a kombucha or kefir starter kit to brew your own live probiotics or learn to make kimchi. Your gut will be grateful, and so will your immune system.

Close your eyes – the ideal form of meditation is one in which you manage to rid your mind of those niggling nuisances without falling asleep. Of course, if you manage to fall asleep during your meditation, it could be because you really needed the sleep, but you may not get the full desired effect. Meditation helps you clear your mind and cope with stress. Light a candle and choose between apps and meditation soundtracks to help you ease into it.

Take a hike – while many spend the better part of their lives behind a computer screen, in traffic, or in meetings, a change of scenery is often the best medicine. Away from hooting taxis, revving engines, and house alarms, a hike in nature will help you exhale and get your steps in, all at once. The combination of exercise and the meditative quality of nature are great for your immune system.

Take time to connect – whether alone or with someone you’re relatively fond of, some time under the covers is a brilliant way to release endorphins. When we are stressed, our sex drives may take a backseat but look for creative ways to ignite the passion. Sex gets your heart racing, your blood flowing and clears your brain of unnecessary static, which are all perfect ways to destress. 

Don’t hold your breath – take your breathing exercises to the next level with the Wim Hof Method. Scientifically proven (7) (8) to aid your immune system, the Wim Hof method draws together breathing techniques, and exposure to cold, to assist in the normal functioning of your immune system (7) (8). It’s a great alternative if you’re not feeling lusty of late.

The attitude of gratitude – long since Oprah popularised this practice, it is as relevant as ever. It’s as simple as keeping a journal of the things you’re grateful for. At the end of each day, you contemplate what brought you joy, what you appreciate, and why. By focussing on the best parts of your day and your life, you wash away at least some of your worries and maybe even sleep more peacefully. Positive thoughts help reduce stress and inflammation and increase your resilience to infection (5).

To top it all off, the Sfera Bio Nutrition range of supplements are perfect for filling in the gaps where our diet may fall short. Support your immune system with our wide range of high-quality products for a well-rounded approach to your immunity.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-lower-cortisol
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-boost-immune-health#6.-Engage-in-moderate-exercise
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/#:~:text=The%20gut%20microbiota%20that%20resides,dysregulation%2C%20leading%20to%20autoimmune%20disorders.
  5. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strengthen-your-immune-system-with-simple-strategies/ 
  6. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/how-use-your-immune-system-stay-healthy#:~:text=Not%20eating%20healthily%2C%20being%20sedentary,toxins%20can%20overwhelm%20the%20body.
  7. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/uploads/kcfinder/files/PNAS.pdf
  8. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/uploads/kcfinder/files/WHM_Hopman.pd
  9. https://www.medicatrix.be/download/regulat.Schoen%20C%20et%20al._Nutrition_2009.pdf