Updated: May 14, 2020
Besides our nervous system, the immune system is probably the most complicated system in our bodies. It is found throughout the body in different types of cells, generally called “immune cells”. These cells perform different functions with the ultimate goal of protecting the body from virus’, infection and other pathogens.
Some basic parts of the immune system are the skin, bone marrow, bloodstream, thymus, lymphatic system, spleen, liver, mucosal tissue and our gut.
Our skin and mucosal tissue have protective immune properties that prevent microbes and pathogens from entering the body. Our bone marrow and liver produce many different types of immune cells and our bloodstream carries them around to fight infection. Our lymphatic system carries immune cells from the bloodstream into lymph nodes, which circulate looking for infection. Finally, our gut has bacteria (also called the microbiome) which helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (among other things). There are many factors involved in keeping our immune systems strong. I do want to say that, as of this writing, there is nothing specific around the coronavirus and immune strength. But general strengthening of the immune system should help ward off all viruses. It probably won’t be a big surprise that keeping the immune system strong is actually related to overall, basic wellness practices. Here are some of the most important things you can do for your immune system and general health:
1. Nutrition – Without healthy amounts of carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, our cells will not function properly, including our immune cells. Robust research indicates that a plant based diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet, provides the best mix of nutrients. This does not mean we all need to be vegetarians but we sure need to eat more veggies!! Since we are all different, my Health Coaching focuses on helping clients create the best eating plan FOR THEM (as opposed to following the latest diet plan). 2. Hydration – Our bodies are mostly water and most of us are dehydrated. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. This is critical for cell function. If you drink caffeine and/or alcohol, you need even more water. Don’t worry, your bladder will adjust and you won’t be running to the bathroom all the time! 3. Physical Activity – Moving our bodies is non-negotiable. It keeps the blood flowing, reduces stress, builds muscle and balance. Moderate exercise is just as good as high intensity. Aim for 150 minutes a week (half hour a day, 5 days a week) 4. Sleep – Make this a priority!!! So much detoxing and cellular repair occur when we are asleep. Practice good sleep hygiene (regular bedtime routine, no caffeine/sugar before bed, reduce the screens, keep bedroom cool etc). If anxiety is keeping you up at night, work towards some kind of meditation routine to help yourself get back to sleep. Health Coaching sessions are a great place to work on your sleep routine and improve this critical aspect of wellness. 5. Stress Management – As a Health Coach, I use Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction with my clients to help people become aware of their thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, with compassion, curiosity and no-judgement. There are many resources for this, just google Mindfulness and you will get tons. I can help with this and I have several colleagues who specialize in it if clients want to get deeper. 6. Avoid Toxins – The biggest toxin to avoid is tobacco! If you smoke, I CAN HELP YOU QUIT and will do it for free if you are out of work. Alcohol is another toxin that, in excess, degrades the quality of our immune systems. If you drink, drink in moderation (this is defined differently by different entities and we can discuss your particular situation during coaching). Pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in our meat and produce add to our toxic load. Buy organic if you can. Learn more about the Environmental Working Groups list of the “Dirty Dozen” foods that have the most pesticides. 7. Boost the Detox Process - We are all exposed to certain environmental toxins that we can’t avoid. These things may help with detoxing the body, which will help the immune system function better:
Hydrate!! Keep everything moving with lots of water.
Sweating helps eliminate toxins… working up a sweat is great, or using a sauna.
Epsom salt baths may help with detox.
Dry brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system.
Castor Oil packs may help with detox.
8. Supplements – While there is no definitive medical evidence that these things help boost the immune system, people use things like echinacea, elderberry, oregano oil, garlic, quercetin and reishi mushrooms to ward off viruses. As always, please check with your medical provider before trying any supplements.
I realize these are a lot of things to try to do!! Again, most of them are general wellness protocols that will naturally boost the immune system. Knowing about them and doing them are two different things. My specialty as a Health Coach is to help you create a Vision of how you want your life to be and how better wellness could help with that Vision. Then we sort through all of the protocols and slowly create goals and habits that will stick for the rest of your life. Reach out to me here for a free discussion of your Health and Wellness. Right now is a good time to add “Strong Immune System” to your life Vision.