When our immune system is compromised, we lose our defense against illness. There are several factors that can wreak havoc on our immune system, but the good news is we are in the driver's seat when it comes to our health and vitality! If we stay focused on the following healthy life practices, they soon become not something we DO, but rather who we ARE. Like a consistent daily yoga practice, it becomes our lifestyle.
Good quality, deep sleep, may be the single greatest determinant of overall health and a healthy immune system. Sleep is when your body detoxifies, restores, repairs, and heals. Think of it like giving your internal systems a full-service flush, tune up and detail. It is when your liver and kidneys filter fluids and toxins, muscles and tissues repair, your brain is flushed to remove toxic heavy metals and chemicals, and your brain transfers short term memory to long term memory. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. Eat dinner early and avoid late night snacking, sugar and alcohol. Turn off TV and other devices at least an hour before you are ready for sleep and read or meditate on something positive. Take a restorative yoga pose like Legs Up The Wall for 10-15 minutes. Make sure you are hydrating throughout the day as this too affects your sleep and overall well being. If thoughts of worry arise, remember there isn’t anything you can do about it until the next day - this is your time - nothing to do, nothing to fix, just SLEEP.
Stress is at the root of so many health issues and certainly messes with our immune system. Some ways to manage stress are to meditate on things you are grateful for and spend time with people who fill you up. Throughout the day, take time to simply sit, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few moments, perhaps while standing outside with your face to the sun. Your immune system is strongly affected by your emotions so doing something that you enjoy each day can also immediately change your overall health.
Food either heals or it harms - it’s that simple. Optimal nutrition is crucial to building a strong and robust immune system. Nutrients are best obtained from a diet of whole, real, organic foods, prepared as closely to their original form as possible. These foods are full of the bioavailable amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need to thrive and stay well. Predigested, industrialized, processed foods, processed carbohydrates, sugars, sugary drinks (including juices), and alcohol, on the other hand, dysregulate our blood sugar and create inflammation, weakening our immune systems and causing illness. When you feel something coming on, increase your water intake, electrolytes (coconut water), sip bone broth or vegetable broth, and herbal teas.
Our immune system works hand in hand with our lymphatic system so moving your body is vital for your health. Exercise can help regulate blood sugar and hormones, build muscle, manage stress, promote better sleep, and stimulate the lymphatic system. If you are super stressed or haven’t slept well, you might consider low key movement such as a walk in nature or a modified yoga/restorative practice, so as not to drive up your stress and cortisol levels, which, in turn, will weaken your immune system. Movement doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do yoga, go to the gym, walk, garden, dance in your living room. Whatever you choose, choose something that brings you joy.