There is something called ‘plasticity’ in our immune system. This means that when the immune system sees a pathogen it has never seen before- e.g. a virus, fungus or bacterium- it can come up with a defence mechanism to deal with it in the most efficient way. It activates the ‘army’ to tackle this pathogen intelligently. For the immune system to have this full potential, it needs the following arrangements to be made by us:
1. A high intake of raw plant nutrients, especially from vegetables and fruits. These foods are packed with antioxidants, minerals, fibre, enzymes and thousands of disease-fighting phytonutrients. For the body to thrive, we need to give it as much of these nutrients as possible. There are some evidence-based plant concentrates that bridge the gap between what we should be eating (10 portions a day now according to science) and what we realistically manage to eat that I personally use and recommend.
2. Get plenty of vitamin D. Ideally from sun exposure, but in reality most of us are deficient due to either a lack of sunshine in itself, or because we tend to spend most of our time indoors. In this case, we need to supplement. Why do we need vitamin D? Not only does vitamin D enhance our innate immune systems, it also prevents our immune systems from becoming dangerously overactive. This means that having healthy levels of vitamin D could protect patients against severe complications, including death, from COVID-19.Most of the vitamin D supplements on the market are isolated and artificially made, with a lot of chemicals added, which don’t do a lot of a good to the body- or even get absorbed in the right places. We, as a family, use a bioavailable and synergistic vitamin D3 and K2 supplement. Synergy is an important factor to consider when buying supplements.
3. Exercise every day. The benefits of exercise are multi-fold. In a nutshell, exercise can help reduce fat mass and increase lean body mass, it can balance hormones and also release happy hormones, called endorphins. Do the type and amount of exercise that feels right for you (generally half an hour every day).
4. Keep hydrated. Water has around 10 functions in the body, some of which are: regulation of hunger, correct weight reduction, lubrication of joints, skin enhancement, better brain and general organ health and also removal of harmful toxins from the body. As a guide, 8-10 glasses of clean, filtered water a day are adequate.
5. Reduce or avoid sugar. Refined sugar can reduce our immune cells’ ability to fight infection, hence increasing inflammatory markers. In fact, obese people have fewer and less capable white blood cells than people of normal weight. Sugar can also affect hormone balance and increase insulin resistance. When sugar is eliminated from the diet for 6 weeks the cravings gradually subside.
6. Sleep for seven-eight hours every night. Sleep is essential for health, as it brings the body back into homeostasis by balancing our hormones, clearing out our gut from debris, repairing cells and generating natural killer cells, which fight against infection and cancer.
7. Avoid processed foods. Anything that looks manufactured and/or contains more than 5 ingredients should be kept to a minimum or avoided. These foodstuffs are heavy on sugar, salt and damaged fats, which cause irreparable damage to our cells.
8. Manage stress. Stress is essential for us to keep alert, motivated and productive. But if it’s too much to the point that it’s having physical or psychological effects on the body it needs to be managed. Stress brings the body out of kilter due to the overproduction of cortisol, which is the ‘flight or fight’ hormone. Breathing techniques, relaxation, socialising and having fun are ways to manage stress.
These eight measures, if practised daily, will help bring the body back into balance and the immune system will be as strong as possible to do its job: protect us from the outside world and the challenges that it brings.