The immune system is a dynamic mesh of molecules, cells, and tissues spanning the entire organism. On the whole your immune system does an incredible job at defending you against harmful invading pathogens and infections that cause colds and other illnesses. However, sometimes the bugs get the better of us and the immune system fails. Read on to find you can ensure you have a robust immune system.
Ginseng can exert direct antiviral effects due to the enhancement of host immunity. Studies have shown that Ginseng extract is a good immune modulator for both acquired and natural immunity, and is best taken with vitamin C. This combination synergistically improves immune cells like T and natural killer cells ,whilst decreasing the survival of a virus infection.
Lactic acid bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are commonly used as probiotics. Studies have demonstrated that probiotic intake confers a range of health benefits including modulation (via stimulation or regulation) of the immune system.
Honey is well known for its antimicrobial properties. Manuka honey is a dark monofloral honey rich in phenolic content and exerts antimicrobial activity via the stimulation of macrophages which are needed for reducing microbial infections. The antibacterial potency of Manuka honey is related to the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating, which is correlated with the methylglyoxal and total phenols content. Researchers have found that Manuka honey has a stronger antibacterial activity from honey with a higher UMF so it is worth paying the higher price tag for UMF 20+ from certified suppliers such as Comvita.
Participating in regular light exercise boosts your immunity and temporarily boosts the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. By improving your circulation your immune cells will be able to efficiently patrol your body. There is a prevailing myth that exercise can temporarily supress the immune function. Research shows that regular physical activity and frequent exercise is not detrimental to immunological health, and is instead beneficial to immune function. That being said, avoid overtraining and on days you feel your body is in need of a rest enjoy a day off or switch things up and participate in a more restorative form of exercise.
Ensure you maintain high levels of personal hygiene. Evidence shows simple acts such as washing your hands, being careful not to sneeze over people, and keeping surfaces clean all reduce the risk of transmission. Note that this can be taken too far as we do need a certain level of allergen exposure as this is part of the normal maturation of the immune system so don’t be tempted to overuse those antibacterial wipes at every opportunity.
Prolonged periods of stress can reduce your immune function and leave you more prone to infection. Cortisol, the stress hormone, neutralises your immune cells. Try to avoid stressful situations and allow yourself winding down time at suitable intervals during the day.