Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Balance, Not Boosting: How to Support Your Immune System During These Crazy Times

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The topic of immunity is on everyone’s mind right now – but how can you give your immune system an extra helping hand, and what does an ‘immunity booster’ actually mean? A health specialist explains…

In the last month, Google Trends has shown sustained spikes for ‘immunity booster’. Little wonder, given the current climate and everyone SUPER wary of becoming sick.

But Lisa Walker, leading health specialist at BePure, is herself wary of the term ‘immunity booster’ – and she reckons what we should actually be striving for is balance.

“Human immunity is not a robot that you can simply charge, or ‘boost’, it’s a finely-tuned system that requires balance,” she says. “Overdo it and you can end up with inflammation, or worst-case scenario, an auto-immune condition. But you don’t want under-active immunity either, because this is how we fall sick. What you really want is to be able to switch your immune function off, and on, depending on what’s going on for you.”

So when the risk is high and we want some extra support to help our immune system do its thing, here are Lisa’s healthy tips:

1. Seek out the following immune health-loving whole foods and consume with great gusto!

Vitamin C rich foods: Citrus, kiwifruit, bell peppers, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables

Vitamin D rich foods: Egg yolk, oily fish like sardines and salmon, cod liver oil, fish oil

Vitamin A-rich foods: Liver, pate, fish oil, eggs

Zinc-rich foods: Shellfish and red meats, along with hemp, flax, sesame and pumpkin seed

(And click here for Dr Libby’s take on immunity-balancing foods!)

2. Keep that body moving…

In terms of exercise, this can also either support or hinder our immune health. Too much exercise can create stress on the body and fatigue the immune system, but we do need exercise to increase blood flow and support strengthening antibodies to help fight infection in our body.

‘Strive for a mix of resistance-based training, cardiovascular work, and don’t forget mobility. Ideally, go for two days resistance, two days cardio and one day of mobility, with some outdoor active rest in between. It’s all about balance, so make sure your exercise regime is specific to your level of fitness and stress levels – not your friends or people you’re following on social media!’

3. … slow it down…

While our bodies can withstand short spurts of stress – it’s when we’re overly stressed for a long time that our “fight and flight” response overactivates, flooding our system with cortisol and creating inflammation in the body. This isn’t something we want, as sustained, high levels of inflammation can lead to an overworked immune system that can’t properly do its job.

In her practice, Lisa recommends finding ways that work for you when it comes to decreasing stress. This includes using a combination of stress busting foods, finding routines that support your lifestyle, good sleep habits and hygiene, setting boundaries, mindfulness and breathwork.

“Mindfulness is an incredibly effective tool in helping to balance our immune health. Look to yoga, meditation, breathwork, gratitude journaling, journaling, or any form of mindfulness that serves you. And despite all that’s going on, don’t be afraid to get out in nature!

Nature is a balm for the mind and enhances our microbiome through exposure to the many beneficial bacteria we breathe in, for instance when taking a walk in the bush. We need to keep both these things happy to keep our immune system in check, ” Lisa added.

4. … and snuggle down!

A study by the Sleep Foundation found a direct link between lack of quality sleep and compromised immunity. This is because our body has to use vital nutrients to repair ourselves from the lack of sleep, instead of fighting foreign bugs. In other words, if you aren’t sleeping well, you’re more likely to get sick.

Start getting better sleep by establishing a good bedtime routine. Unplug from electronic devices at least an hour or two before bed. Turn down bright lights. Keep the room temperature cool and consider taking a muscle and mind relaxing magnesium supplement.

5. And make sure your superhero nutrient stores are stored away

Our immune system craves zinc, and vitamins B, C, D and K. These nutrients act like building blocks in supporting immune health. When our immune system is triggered, there are also some powerful herbs that can help ward off ills and chills as the first sign of a niggle and also support recovery, including echinacea, beta-glucan, Holy basil leaf, ginger and marshmallow root.

All of these herbs and nutrients can be found in BePure’s Immune Power Pack. Think of it as your seasonal survival kit for the whole family (ages 6+). It provides the body with the most important nutrients to support immune function, as well as Immune Action, a herbal formula for fast-acting, targeted relief in times of high need when we feel a first niggle of ills and chills.

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