Did you know the best defence against flu and virus is within you?
With all the talk of vaccines, face masks and supplements, I wanted to share some basic facts about your own inbuilt defences and how you can armour coat your body from the inside out when it comes to the flu.
Every minute of everyday your immune system is on surveillance duty and is ready to act. What you may not know is that there is a plethora of things you can do every single day to support your immune system and protect yourself.
So, what do I mean when I say you can protect yourself? Only recently I was at the airport watching people with protective face masks. They were sitting in the food court eating processed foods, drinking sugar laden drinks and wearing a face mask. Now, how much protection do you think someone is afforded when they are wearing a face mask as their first line of defence? Because once a flu or virus is under that mask, they will not have a good capacity to defend against infection.
The immune system is one of those elegant systems… simple yet complex. It involves multiple organs:
The gut, spleen, tonsils, lymphatic system, thymus and blood cells all make up this symphony of protection. Without getting too in-depth, I want you to understand our 2 main types of immunity: Innate Immunity and Adaptive Immunity.
But before that comes the gut:
The microbes in our gut speak to our immune system. Yes you have two main types of immunity, but without proper gut microbial balance, an intact gut lining and the right information (food, sunshine, movement and sleep) your immune system will not receive the correct education. Your gut bugs basically teach, or coach, your immune system. So this paragraph is a little shout out to the gut.
This is the first line of immune defence, it is your mucous lining, your skin, your lung tissue. Everywhere in your body that is exposed to the outside wall has innate immune system. It is unrefined and will response generically with inflammation and symptoms of infection. The hope is that this first line response, the mucous, the cough, the inflammation, will be enough to rid your body of the threat. If not we have:
This is where specific responses to individual antigens are developed. The realm of vaccinations sits firmly in the adaptive category. Our bodies are said to be able to develop a memory and recognition for around one billion different antigens. Today, I’m going to focus on that first line of defence, the innate immune system.
Real-life everyday actions bolster, or depress your capacity for protection against virus'. Even one night’s bad sleep will impair your immune system the next day. Processed foods, gluten, lack of sunshine, all depress your immune system. Have you heard the saying ‘Food is either medicine or a poison but never in between?’ This is so very true and so very relevant every day of your life. For example:
1 x slice of diversity dough with butter will provide vitamin A,D,E & K as well as a diverse range of prebiotics to build a robust microbiome.
1 x slice of toast contains gluten, carbohydrates, synthetic additives such as folate and preservatives. The effects here will be to impair the gut wall, feed pathogens in the gut, miscommunicate to your immune system and trigger inflammation across the body.
So you can see how every day, in every way, your small choices build you up. Before I get into the extra ways in which you can protect yourself, I want to take you through the pillars of immune well being:
- Community / connection
- Time in nature
When a particular threat arises and you want to ramp up your immunity, Here is a list of what you can do
Loading up on antiviral foods and spices- coconut oil, garlic, onion, oregano, ginger, walnut, pomegranate, apple cider vinegar, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm and sage.
Some of these can be consumed as teas and are in our new immunity tea blend. Some are fabulous (like coconut oil) to add to your coffee, your cooking or just a spoon straight.
Get a great night's sleep so your body can recuperate
During non-REM sleep, our immune system is put through its paces, we can track an increase in immune activity during sleep and know that a good sleep is crucial for proper immune function
Adequate fresh air and exercise daily
Movement and outside time promote healthy immune function, both via the promotion of a robust microbiome, the fresh air (as opposed to possibly mouldy or toxic inside air) and sunshine will all support your day by day
Drink your bone broth
Bone broth will heal and seal the gut wall and promote a healthy gut lining where your microbiome lives. Broth is also rich in minerals that boost immunity. By creating a habitat within your gut for beneficial microbes you are enabling that highest level of communication from your microbes to your immune system
Eat fermented foods
KW cultures are ideal immune boosters with an abundance of beneficial probiotics and prebiotics. The ferments contain 8 strains of probiotic bacteria and yeast evidenced to build immune function. These probiotics also act as prebiotics further building the microbiome and its capacity to defend against invaders, essentially building innate immunity
Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food
If there is one sure-fire way to impair your immune system, it is to eat processed foods. From the artificial colours, flavours, synthetic nutrients, high sugar load and inflammatory fats, there isn’t anything beneficial about processed foods. Remember that food will either heal or damage and this type of food leads to inflammation in the body setting off alarm bells and dampening the body’s ability to respond to actual invaders.
Keep your stress levels at the minimum
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced not only during acute stress, but at chronic low levels during the stress of every day. This can include chemical stress, blue light stress, or emotional stress. Cortisol impairs your body’s ability to fight off infection and reduces white blood cell production. When you are managing your stress, you are managing your immune system too.
Eat an abundance of colourful vegetables and fruits for that antioxidant boost
Here we are again, food as medicine. Many of the vitamins in nutritious foods include vitamin C,D,A and E, zinc and selenium, all of which are crucial to a proper functioning immune system. The more colourful your fruits and vegetables the more antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds you have to build a good immune system and decrease daily inflammation.
So those foundational dietary principles will support you, but if you would like to ramp up your immune system or if you are at risk (gut dysbiosis, autoimmune disease, allergies, intolerance's, hormonal imbalances) you can try these other ways to have a head start in supporting immune function. Certain nutritional supplements and herbal medicines can be added to your regime for antiviral purposes, consulting a qualified practitioner is always when recommenced when doing this to provide the best results and doses for you. Below is a list of ways you can add extra nutrients in:
- Fish Oil - proven omega-3 fatty acids increase immune function
- Vitamin C - a powerful antioxidant which keeps infection at bay
- Vitamin D3 - modulates immune responses
- Zinc - required for the normal functioning of our white blood cells
- Echinacea - Echinacea is one of the most researched herbs and has been proven to shorten the duration of colds
- Astragalus - used for the common cold, upper respiratory infections, seasonal allergies to strengthen and regulate the immune system
- Curcumin - anti-inflammatory immune-modulating
- Elderflower - Antiviral, high in bioflavonoids which are commonly known for their antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Immune Herbal tea by Kultured Wellness
If you would like to work on your immune function and feel protected against the threat of virus’, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our practitioners can support you through the correct testing and supplementation as well as core dietary principles.
While you are waiting, grab some cultures, some immune tea and jump onto our Facebook page.