Part 2 in my series about Immune Support
In part 1 of my immune support series, we discussed health and nutrition and how what you put in your body has an impact on your immune system. Here in part 2, we touch on lifestyle factors that impact your immune system, especially during transitional times of the year like holidays, vacations or the beginning of a new school year when environmental threats increase.
Many lifestyle factors can also wear down the immune system, including stress, lack of sleep, exposure to toxicity, and poor diet. Managing each of these areas and adapting a model of consistency and awareness that supports the immune system instead of compromising it, is an excellent way to maintain health throughout the year.
Quality Exercise & Sleep
Beyond the obvious cardiovascular, mood, and weight management benefits of regular exercise, moderate physical activity can improve our antibody response to infections. Getting your heart rate up at least 3 – 5 times a week allows your body to perform at optimal level but also helps flush toxins from your system, which in turn leads to a healthier immune system.
Incorporate some type of physical activity into your day – go for a walk alone or find a walking buddy, do a yoga video from youtube, join a gym, or attend a group class. It is not only critical to boost your immune system, it also has the added benefit of increasing serotonin in your brain which leads to a better mood. Win win
Let’s talk about sleep. Sleep deprivation increases the hormone cortisol and suppresses the body’s immune function. Each time you close your eyes to sleep, the body starts to heal from all the environmental threats incurred during the day. Thus a good night of sleep, provides your body a better opportunity of achieving maximum health. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis.
Avoid staying up too late. With each interruption in your sleep pattern comes a decrease in your body’s ability to respond to the intruders it needs to fight off to stay healthy. Chronic sleep deprivation and disruption of the sleep-wake cycle cause an activation of the inflammatory immune response. Lack of sleep decreases the activity of T-cells (a crucial type of immune cell) and weakens our immune response to viruses.
As a mom, I know that that getting enough sleep and exercise is easier said than done, especially when have little ones waking up at all hours of the night. As busy moms we often put our own needs on the back burner for the sake of our family. But this approach (or lack there of) to self care comes with a hefty price and can lead to exhaustion, depression and even disease when it goes unchecked for too long. There is no medal for most exhausted mom.
I sleep better and feel better when I get some physical activity – it goes something like this – exercise = better sleep -→ better sleep = less exhaustion → less exhaustion = better temper = less yelling = happier kids and family. You get the picture right. Sleep and exercise go hand in hand – find some time to do both and your body will thank you.
We know that when we take care of ourselves through diet and exercise that our body systems receive what they need to take better care of us. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: when we don’t eat well and we don’t get enough sleep and exercise, we limit our body’s capacity to function. It is a never-ending cycle, especially when it comes to our immune systems. The good news for us lies in an additional option—essential oils. Yes essential oils can help play a role in boosting and supporting your immune system.
Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils) is not limited to just pleasant scents that help you relax or give you a boost of energy naturally. There is a ton of science and research behind the benefits of these plant based medicines. Now most of you know I can talk for hours about the benefits of essential oils in many areas of our lives but for now let’s stick their immune support benefits.
Essential oils have the ability to cross the cell membrane so they can attack foreign factors that other chemical compounds can not. This is quite an amazing accomplishment. Compounds found in essential oils can be antiviral, antibacterial, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory and/or decongestant. At the end of the day, essential oils fill in the gaps where maybe all the above factors we already talked about are lacking. Their job is to improve your immune system and deny regular illness, entry into your body.
I admit I was one of the biggest skeptics of essential oils until I started using them and discovered their amazing benefits. Now I use essential oils on a daily basis from everything to immune support, non-toxic cleaning, skin care and so much more.
Healthy lifestyle behaviors not only influence how you look and feel, but your body’s ability to ward off harmful invaders. Support your immune system by cleaning up that diet, adding some immune-supporting supplements and therapeutic grade essential oils to your daily routine. It also helps to get off the couch and get some good ZZZZ’s.
If this article resonated with you and you are interested in learning more about how to boost your immune system naturally contact me.