From posts I've seen on Facebook to my piano students texting me, I've noticed a lot of people are getting sick. That's typical for this time of year, even pre-2020, but even so no one likes to get sick. I definitely don't, and I currently have the best immune system I've ever had in my entire life!
I've posted in the past tidbits here and there for helping support your immune system. Here are some relevant posts that you should read:
There are plenty of other posts that have included herbs beneficial for your immune system, but today I want to discuss a "road map" or a plan that will get you specifically focused on lifestyle changes beneficial for your immunity.
It's a Big Topic These Days...
Everyone has an opinion on what is best for your immune system these days, and most people are tired of the topic. I'm not gonna push any taboo treatments on y'all in this post, I assume people have heard enough to make up their minds on that subject. Instead, let's talk about what has always worked and what can help guard you against most illnesses - not just the one that most people are talking about these days.
So, what do you already know about immunity and your immune system? I assume most of us know how it works but to put it very basically: your body catches or gets introduced to something and learns to find it. (It's a bit more complicated than that but that's it in a nutshell.)
Like a boxer in a ring that is gearing up for a big fight, your immune system isn't going to fight very well if it's not in its best shape. What can you do to keep your immune system at its best?
Of course, you know I'm about to cite some studies.
Exercise is so important when keeping on your health. No, I'm not talking about working out to lose weight - I'm talking about woking out to maintain health. This means there must be a balance - don't overdo and don't do too little. A walk once a month isn't considered "maintaining health", and a run 3x a day is probably not healthy for you either!
Did you know that it is believed by many that exercise can suppress your immune system? I didn't know that until recently! I'm honestly confused at how many come to that conclusion, and to be honest if you are one of the many that believe it please tell me why. I'm not judging, just very curious in that point of view.
I found a study that helped prove evidence of the opposite: exercise can, in fact, boost your immune system. Exercise can not only make you feel good, but is also found to "enhance in vivo immune responses to bacterial, viral, and other antigens." I'm quite impressed that it helps with that broad spectrum instead of just bacterial or viral.
Rest can be just as important as exercising. This is where balance comes into play. For me, exercising can help reduce stress sometimes and then othertimes I need to prop my feet up instead. You've got to know yourself, or start learning yourself at least. Read the signs of when it's time to trade between the two and don't beat yourself up for putting yourself first.
Sleep definitely comes into the equation here. If you're not taking breaks when necessary and getting enough sleep, your physical and mental health are going to negatively affect your immune system. Sleep has been closely linked to immunity activation and response. In this article, it goes into details supporting the importance of proper sleep and immune response.
Sleep deprivation is a very common problem today, and so figuring out how to adjust and what changes you need to make might be as simple as turning off any tech and going to bed earlier or as difficult as needing to see a doctor. Take it slow and start trying new methods of getting the amount of sleep you need.
Brush Up (Or "Treat Yo' Self")
The importance of your lymphatic system is so high that people donate and recieve bone marrow and that certain cancers and illnesses can spread quickly through the body by way of the lymphatic fluid.
Regular detoxification and care of the lymphatic system can help improve your health. There are two relaxing ways you can do this: dry skin brushing and massages.
Oh, yes - massages are important! I honestly don't understand why they aren't more prioritized, especially with what we know about them today. They shouldn't be a "treat yo' self" thing, they should be considered regular health maintenance. You don't do any type of massage, though. In order to support lymphatic drainage and detoxification you need a lymphatic massage. (It's always nice to have someone do it for you, but it's possible to do it by yourself if necessary!)
Dry brushing is another fun option for helping detoxification. Check out my post on it, and please don't judge the quality of the video - I was so new to all of this. (I was just a baby, really...)
Drink. Your. Water.
Even if you're not a pop or coffee drinker, don't be hydrating yourself with juices and teas. You need to be mostly hydrating with water. Your body needs to be properly hydrated to be its best. That's common knowledge, though.
It's also common knowledge that if your diet is trash, your health is more likely to be trash. Eating mostly unprocessed, nutrient dense meals will give your body that final push it needs to perform its best. Taking a Flintstone a day isn't going to cover the nutrients you're missing when low nutrient, highly processed meals make up your day's diet.
The biggest excuse I hear is the lack of time in the day to prepare a decent meal. Don't think I'm not familiar with where you're coming from - that used to be my life! Now I meal plan, and it really does help a lot. Also, if you're a snacker, buy healthier snacking options to keep around the house. I'm a huge fruit gal - smoothies usually start my day at any time of year and I will eat my weight in oranges.
I'm not lying, oranges give me life.
Check out this interesting study on how diet can affect your immune system and the body's inflammation.
Finally, take your daily vitamins and try supplementing with some immune supporting herbs. (I would be remiss as a master herbalist to not mention them.)
I'll be linking blog posts that mention the immune system supporting herbs:
I love using my blog as a resource!
In this post, I have laid before you the basics in supporting your immune system. Not every body is built the same, but mostly functions similarly. Let me know if you have adopted any of these methods in the past and if you've seen improvements. I know I have!
Stay safe y'all.
Campbell, J. P., & Turner, J. E. (2018). Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 648. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.00648
Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological reviews, 99(3), 1325–1380. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
Iddir, M., Brito, A., Dingeo, G., Fernandez Del Campo, S. S., Samouda, H., La Frano, M. R., & Bohn, T. (2020). Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress through Diet and Nutrition: Considerations during the COVID-19 Crisis. Nutrients, 12(6), 1562. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061562
Author: Tina Potter
Master Herbalist, I've graduated as an American Healthcare College Alumnus, I've become a member of American Herbalist Guild and author of survivalist series Survival Ember co-authored by professional survivalist Kenny Dietrich of Ashland, KY. I've been beyond blessed with the constant desire to learn and teach.
COMMON SENSE NOTICE: I do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. What you do with the information I post is up to you, but it is advised to consult with a doctor before acting on alternative methods of medicine. I wish you all the best!