1. Don’t smoke – for obvious reasons. 2. Reduce your stress – use mindfulness and meditation strategies. 3. Exercise Daily – 30 to 45mins moderate to high intensity. 4. Start sleeping properly – 8 – 9 hours a day 5. Laugh like a kid again – those endorphins released promote wellbeing. 6. Eat with a small plate – the bigger your plate the more unwanted calories you ingest. 7. Reduce your alcohol intake – keep to 10 units a week or less. 8. Keep to a healthy weight – additional kg’s cause additional health risks and ailments. 9. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables high in minerals, water, vitamins and antioxidants. 10. Hydrate like a champ – water helps to flush out toxins and keeps your body temperature regulated. 11. Be bacteria conscious – kill germs and limit infection by washing your hands regularly. 12. Supplement – look to good brands that have a good reputation.
We have had some pretty interesting weather across South Africa over the past few weeks and it feels different from previous years. Here in Johannesburg we have started to feel the chill in the air. With change in weather comes the sniffles and flu and what better way to tackle the start of winter by preparing in advance to build your immune system.
What does that even mean and is it really possible to build one’s immune system. The answer to that question is yes; firstly you need to understand what an immune system is. Your immune system is not one point of contact or reference but rather a system of things working harmoniously in balance to keep the body functioning at an optimal rate. For example, the minute you go on a diet and limit your food through a FAD diet, you will be depriving your body of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for functioning. This will break down your immune system.
Stress causes a physiological flight or fright response and if you are constantly stressed, this affects your body’s natural rhythm because it is so busy trying to get it off the hormones generated from the constant response that this could lead to a decrease in your wellbeing and immunity.
Now, see your immune system as various parts of your body which help to fight off bacteria and viruses. A healthy lifestyle is the key ingredient in making sure your body is performing at a high level when a virus attacks. All your systems are firing on all cylinders. The last thing you want to do when going to war on attacking a virus is to have half your soldiers on vacation or in sick bay because they are so tired from fighting off stress and deficiencies in the body.
Your body therefore has strategic organs that help fight off infection. Your tonsils are there to help create antibodies. The lymph nodes are responsible for carrying fluid, nutrients and waste material to and from the bloodstream and body tissues. The lymph node during this process helps to trap bacteria and other nasties and helps destroy them with white blood cells. Your Thymus gland found behind your chest bones helps produce antibodies and your bone marrow also helps in producing white blood cells. The spleen plays it part by helping to identify bacteria and foreign substance.
Your body is an amazing machine designed to keep you alive and healthy. The minute we start abusing our bodies by not looking after it through environmental factors, nutrition, exercise and stress management, we open ourselves up a greater chance of bacteria getting a hold. Your body spends a great deal of time and resources just trying to keep up with your poor lifestyle and when bacteria hits, you are low on resources to help fight off infection and then it takes longer for you to recover.
The next thing most people will end up doing is trying to treat the cause without changing the lifestyle. They will pop to the local drug store and buy every immune boosting supplement to help “build” the immune system but that can be the same as going to go buy a chair with one leg. Yes sure, one leg is important, but you need all four to support you sitting on it. In health systems, see the chair as your immune system, it needs support for the factors mentioned above in order to have the best chance of fighting off bacteria.
In a nutshell, if you want a better immune system, then start on the list above and make sure you have not left out any of them.
Sean Van Staden is the proud husband of an amazing woman and mom and the ‘Daddy Pig’ – (thank you Pepper Pig for brainwashing my children, in a good way) – of two little Gremlins, Jordan and Haylee, who are fast approaching three and four years of age. In his quest to give his children the tools to succeed, Sean’s blog tackles topics of nutrition, physical development, exercise, mental toughness, building confidence, self-esteem, sport, wellness, and just about anything that will help his children, and hopefully yours, grow in the right direction.