Over the last year our world has been turned upside down as we face a pandemic. We are staying at home, washing our hands and adhering to the rules for social distancing. But what else can we do to support our health right now?
You will be pleased to know that there is a LOT you can do to support your general health and immune function through diet and lifestyle. I have seen first hand, the transformations that take place with my clients after making, often very simple changes. Now is the perfect time to implement some new habits and take a closer look at your health.
The immune system is incredibly complex and sophisticated in its ability to fight off disease – most of the time without us even realising. Even though most people generally associate our tonsils and lymph nodes and maybe even bone marrow with immune function, actually the largest portion of immune system activity takes place in the gastrointestinal tract otherwise known as the gut, where up to 80% of all mature immune cells live and function.
The role of our gut is to breakdown our food and absorb nutrients which are essential to our health. If your gut is overloaded with toxic food and substances, bacterial, yeast or parasite infections, then your immune system is going to be working hard keeping that under control, meaning it has to work much harder than someone with a healthy gut. It also means you may have an impaired ability to absorb the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are all essential to health.
Residing in your gut is an ecosystem of bacteria known as the microbiome. The microbiome directly communicates with our immune system cells. If we don’t have healthy levels of good bacteria in our gut then it can negatively impact immune function. Lots of things can disrupt the microbiome including junk food, alcohol, sugar, medications, stress and trauma (physical and mental trauma). A diet high in a diverse range of vegetables and fibre supports a healthy microbiome.
Managing stress levels is important. Stress can effectively shut down digestive function making it harder for your body to get the nutrients it needs from food. It also negatively effects the balance of bacteria in the gut and can have a detrimental impact on your gut lining. If your gut lining becomes damaged or ‘leaky’ then larger molecules of undigested food and toxins can enter the blood stream – causing an immune response. This can be one of the reasons behind multiple food intolerances and also, more serious autoimmune diseases.
Low grade, chronic stress can also promote inflammation which can lead to disease. It’s vital to look at your stress levels and tune in to how you are feeling. Are you sleeping well? If not, this can exacerbate stress and impair immune function. How much time do you have to yourself each day/week, to recharge and breath? Do you use any tools such as meditation, yoga, therapy, reiki, emotional freedom technique, massage, breathing techniques to help you? Do you spend enough time with loved ones or just being in nature? All of these things support a healthy stress response. So, finding what works for you and what’s possible to incorporate into your schedule, is so important. Especially at the moment, when we are living through very stressful times.
Get in touch if you need more support with your health. I offer a free 15 minute chat to explain more about how nutritional therapy can help.
I have set up a coronavirus facebook group, a community to share information on nutrition, recipes and lifestyle tips. Practitioners from the world of wellbeing will also feature, sharing yoga, meditation, reiki, breathing techniques, psycotherapy and more. If you would like to join click HERE and hit the join group button!