During cold and flu season, many of us prioritize staying healthy with immune-boosting foods and supplements. However, there are plenty of easy lifestyle adjustments you can make to not only promote immunity, but stop taking an unnecessary toll on your body’s defenses:
Limit Chemical & Toxin Exposure
Just as the immune system is the first line of defense against any bug or virus, it is also critical for protecting the body from toxins that are not removed by the liver.
The liver is the body’s primary hub of detoxification and uses various enzymes to break down chemicals and substances and then neutralizes the harmful molecules and toxins that remain. However, when the liver becomes overworked, it may not effectively remove the erroneous substances.
This is where the immune system comes into play and can elicit an inflammatory response to target these toxic “invaders.” When the immune system is constantly dealing with attacking toxins in the body, it puts a strain on the efficacy of the immune system and results in a variety of symptoms including:
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Skin rashes
- Joint pain
- Poor immunity
In order to avoid straining your immune system with an overload of toxins, it is important to reevaluate the products you use in your everyday life: what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body
Those who use personal care and beauty products need to be particularly mindful of buying from trusted manufacturers as the average woman uses 12 such products containing 168 different chemicals each day.
Such chemicals in cosmetic products are eventually absorbed into the bloodstream and their cumulative effect not only compromises immune health and can increase your potential risk of illness but have also been shown to have long-term harmful health effects:
- Developmental issues in infants and children
- Liver damage, neurotoxicity
- Reproductive disorders
- Skin DNA damage
- Tumor growth
- Thyroid disease
- Hormonal Imbalances
- And more
In addition to personal care products, household cleaning products, plastic containers and objects, furniture, and other items you are around on a daily basis should be revaluated for toxin exposure. Learn more here
Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and reduced numbers of germ-fighting cells. In fact, according to Dr. Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and author of Why We Sleep: The Power of the Mind and Dreams, a lack of sleep decreases the activity of natural killer T cells (immune cells) in the body by ~30% drop.
During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Some cytokines help promote sleep, while others need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation or when you’re under stress. Researchers in a 2012 study found a dramatic difference in immune response in subjects who slept four to six hours per night compared to those who slept seven to nine hours.
It is important to note that a lack of sleep may also compromise the efficacy of your immune system in the long run as Dr. Walker’s research shows that “Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.”
Promote Lymphatic Health
The lymphatic system helps protect the body against foreign invaders as it releases lymphocytes (white blood cells) and other immune cells that destory pathogens.
By setting aside a couple minutes in the morning to dry brush is an easy way to stimulate lymphatic function, release toxins, and support circulation, all of which are necessary for optimal immunity.
Research also shows that jumping on a trampoline for at least 10 to 15 minutes will stimulate your lymphatic system and it may cause the lymphatic valves to open and close simultaneously which will cause increase lymph flow as much as 15x.
Although antibiotics are intended to help your immune system rid the body of a certain pathogen, there is a wealth of research showing that the use of antibiotics can cause serious and long-term, negative health effects especially when overused.
Antibiotics destroy beneficial bacteria in the human body, not only in the gut but also in other organs and tissues. They change bacteria, viruses, and fungi from benign to pathogenic, giving them the ability to invade tissues and cause disease. They make bacteria resistant to antibiotics, so the industry has to work on more and more powerful new antibiotics to attack these newly changed bacteria.
They have a direct damaging effect on the immune system, making us more vulnerable to infections, which leads to a vicious cycle of more antibiotics and more infections.
There are times when antibiotics are necessary, but avoiding the overuse of antibiotics is important since these eliminate not only harmful bacteria but also the healthy kind. If you must take antibiotics for an infection, taking additional probiotic supplements can help prevent yeast infections and overgrowth of bad bacteria in the digestive system.
Test for Underlying Deficiencies
Approximately 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, one of the most critical vitamins when it comes to immune health.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in the innate immune system (the first line of defense against invading pathogens). Learn more here
In fact, approximately 90% of Americans suffer from some form of a vitamin deficiency and an underlying deficiency can easily compromise immune health.
By testing your vitamin levels with Holtorf Medical Group’s personalized and data-driven approach to your health can empower you to alleviate underlying deficiencies and tailor your wellness routine to what your body really needs. You can make informed decisions when it comes to your supplementation, IV Therapy, and more.
Contact us today if you’re interested in knowing what’s best for your health