Ten Steps to a Strong Immunity – Part 2

Ten Steps to a strong immunity, Part 2

I wrote the first part of my immunity blog two weeks ago, as I was acutely aware of just how many people have experienced prolonged, nasty Winter viruses. It’s no fun if you feel wiped out, unable to work and unable to participate in day to day life.

The first party of my “strong immunity” blog focused on nutritional support. Today, I’m focusing on the fully holistic naturopathic approaches that are essential to keep your immune system working for you and not against you.

Support your gut 

Building a Strong Immunity Part 2

Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut? Like elsewhere in the body, the gut contains high amounts of specialist lymphatic tissue. This is home to white blood cells, which fight infection. 

A healthy gut has a rich mucosal lining that secretes its own anti-microbial compounds and Secretory IgA (SIgA) – antibodies that neutralise pathogens and stop them in their tracks.

And don’t forget the 100 trillion bacteria “microbiota” which reside in the colon – ten times the cells in your body. When we have a healthy diversity of beneficial bacteria, it promotes resilience and defence against pathogens. 

As a specialist in gut health and advanced stool testing, I frequently see poor gut health status: low levels of beneficial bacteria, extremely low SIgA, leaky gut and an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. The body is unable to mount a strong immune response.

What can we do? Following a high fibre diet is essential. A very high vegetable diet, with berries, nuts, seeds, pulses and brown rice should be the foundation of your diet. Aim to consume 40 different plant foods each week to obtain various plant compounds and fibre which feed these gut bacteria. Different bacteria require different fibre sources. And in turn they produce compounds that keep the gut and gut mucosa healthy.

The restorative power of sleep

Building a Strong Immunity Part 2

Increasingly, scientists are discovering how powerful sleep is to your overall health. 

Sleeping 7–8 hours per night is associated with healthy ageing. And your immune system relies on good quality sleep for optimum function. A lack of sleep has been shown to depress immune function. When you sleep, your body enters the growth and repair phase. New cells are produced which include all those associated with your immune system. Various white blood cells that fight infections are increased, mobilised and immune function is enhanced.

Lack of sleep is an unfortunate 21st century problem. The busy “always connected” lifestyle does not help. Aim to introduce a sleep routine to create a good nighttime habit. Banish blue light (from phones and gadgets) by turning them off at least two hours before bedtime. Blue light interferes with the production of melatonin from the pineal gland and makes it harder to unwind and fall asleep. Modern LED lights may have the same effect. You can buy glasses that block the blue light, but I’d recommend reducing gadget usage as the information overload also acts as a stimulus.

Appropriate Exercise

Building a Strong Immunity Part 2

We tend to group together exercise as one activity and classify it all as healthy. But it is not as straight forward as that. We need to understand the impact of exercise intensity on the body’s immune system.

Undertaking excessive high impact intensive cardio exercise may act as an immune suppressor, reducing important immune fighting cells and their efficiency, causing inflammation and oxidative stress. Athletes training for important competitions may be more at risk to coughs and colds but should be following a nutrition programme to help alleviate this outcome.

Walking for 30 minutes a day has been shown to stimulate immune response and white blood cell production. 

In one American study, women who walked for a half-hour every day for 1 year had half the number of colds as those who didn’t exercise. In another study, researchers found that in 65-year-olds who did regular exercise, the number of T-cells — a specific type of white blood cell — was as high as those of people in their 30s.

Moderate exercise is the key. Spend less time sitting and more time moving to really support your health.  Aim for 150 – 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. Walking, running, dancing and cycling are all options that count.

The Impact of Stress and natural ways to alleviate it

Building a Strong Immunity Part 2

When we are stressed, the body goes into a state of “fight or flight”. This is perfectly natural and designed to mobilise the body’s systems and prime the body for action.  Adrenaline is the immediate hormone that tells the body to respond to danger. Cortisol – a second stress hormone – responds more slowly but takes longer to decline. 

Stress has a negative effect on immunity since cortisol suppresses the immune response and the production of white blood cells, making it harder to fight infections. 

Unfortunately, in the modern world we can find ourselves in a stressed state more often than not, leading to chronically raised cortisol and a less efficient immune system. 

Introduce some time throughout the day to still your mind. Whether this is deep breathing exercises, a walk in fresh air, yoga, meditation or using a specially designed mindful app. These activities help to turn off the fight or flight switch and move your body into a “rest and digest” calm state.

Support good lymph flow

Building a Strong Immunity Part 2

The lymphatic system is an essential part of our immune system. It is a network of vessels that drains waste from tissues back into the bloodstream.  It is also home to many immune fighting white blood cells and lymph nodes that filter out pathogens. 

Unlike the circulatory system the lymphatic system does not have a pump (like the heart) to keep the lymph fluid flowing around the body. Naturopaths believe that poor lymph flow can contribute to a lack of vitality due to its essential roles in removal of waste and supporting immunity. Helping lymph to flow well and not become congested is essential to our overall health.

There are a number of naturopathic techniques that encourage lymph flow. The first is to keep moving. This does not have to be strenuous exercise but movement of all body parts. If you find you are sitting for long periods of time try circling ankles, lifting and lowering legs and the rotation of arms in their shoulder joints. 

Deep breathing really helps to move the diaphragm and support the movement of the lymphatic vessels in the chest. 

Finishing your showers with a short cold water boost has been found to support the production of white blood cells as well as helping circulation. 30–90 seconds is the optimum time (hence “short cold”).  This is a natural hydrotherapy technique still practised in Germany today.

Gut health, good sleep, moderate exercise, managing stress and keeping lymph flowing well are the cornerstones of a naturopathic approach to keeping your immune system strong.

Need help or advice? Book a free Discovery Call

If you suffer any symptoms you can’t resolve or you are unsure about your diet and health, why not book a free discovery call? Simply visit www.peytonprinciples.com, or email caroline@peytonprinciples.com


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Again, thanks for reading. 

Keep your eye out for more articles and Peyton Principles in the media.

Caroline

Gut Health Nutritionist Caroline Peyton Principles
Caroline is a Professional Nutritionist, Naturopath based in Wiltshire.

A little more about me…

Providing expert, personalised, health advice utilising 10 years of nutritional therapy and naturopathy experience with a strong emphasis on digestion and gut health. Zoom or face to face Consultations.

I also develop and deliver well-being in the workplace workshops.

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