Lots of people around me seem to be coming down with nasty bugs at the moment, including my nine year old son. This week at least eight members of his class have had a twenty four hour sickness bug. Not nice but kids bounce back pretty quickly thank goodness.
Adults don't always bounce back so quickly and Autumn/Winter with a change in the temperature seems to bring more disease, so how can you boost your immune system to ensure you're not missing out on living your life because you're laid up sniffling or worse?
Here's an IMMUNE BOOSTING TOP 10 :
1.Up at the top is KICKING the SMOKING habit. I don't think I need to go into detail here, we all know that smoking kills - the build up of toxins in the body is enormous and puts a great strain on the immune system, and the liver. Set a date to quit, get rid of everything to do with smoking on that day, tell the world you're going to do it and ask for their support. Use some strong smells like peppermint,Vick, spices, coconut; apparently they help stop cravings. If you need to ,get some gum or nicotine patches, and whilst relapses are common if you're prepared for them they're easier to deal with.
2.LAUGH - children laugh all day at anything. Fab to listen to, and we adults should take a leaf out of their book because it's so good for us and most of us take life too seriously and get bogged down in unnecessary detail, I know I do! Laughing can decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells. Watch a sit com, film, meet friends, read a joke book, play with your kids;do whatever it takes to add some laughter to your life.
3.AVOID antibiotics. Yes, they have their place but frequent use causes a build up of chemical toxins that have to be broken down and detoxed by the liver. They have side effects too and alot of the time are taken unnecessarily. They should be taken for bacterial infections only - not viral. Don't take them for colds and flu even if they're prescribed. Don't use them as a preventative measure, and don't save or share them.
4. AVOID C.R.A.P foods (junk food), your body needs a good old fashioned 'hunter/gatherer' style diet ie. eating as close to nature as possible. Organic or locally sourced meats, fruit and vegetables, fish, pulses and unrefined carbohydrates and lots of filtered or mineral water (approx two and a half litres a day). Experts believe that nutritional deficiencies are probably the greatest cause of immune system weakness. Junk food has no nutritional value, it can even be called non nutrient food so places a strain on the body to detox and digest. Lose it where at all possible. Try the 80/20 rule, and apply it to alcohol as well.
5. Be TACTILE. Cuddles, hugs, kisses and affection in general are extremely good for us, and are to be encouraged for the amazing 'feel good' factor they produce, helping to lower stress levels and put things into perspective. Do random acts of kindness every day, see how good it makes you feel . Make communication in general part of your day whether its through face book, texting, phoning or direct face to face contact- be socially active. Isolation leads to negative feelings in alot of cases, and can blow things out of unnecessary proportion.
6. Be ACTIVE - exercise and movement in general is what our bodys are designed for. "Death is still, so keep moving" (Dr Berndston). Sedentary ways have a big impact on our health, especially posture, and your weight (and obesity is definitely not the way forward for health). Moderate exercise is the key - government recommendations are 5 x 30 mins a week. Not difficult to fit in to your routine, as it can be as simple as walking to work, or running up and down stairs. Functional movement is as good as any 'formal' exercise. Buy a pedometer and see exactly how close you're getting to the 10,000 steps we're all advised to do each day.
7.DEAL WITH DEPRESSION. We all have 'down' days, and doing some of the above tips will help conquer them - affection, exercise,laughing etc.It's when we can't shake off the blues that we need to take positive steps to overcome them. Clinical depression is damaging to the immune system, it weakens it, but even just having a bit of a down day can do the same.
Try positive thinking; if something goes wrong, isolate it. Don't lump all of your life together as one big negative. Box off the negatives and concentrate on the positives - think I can and I will. When Lauren(my seven year old) and I went climbing last weekend she said to me on the way there " mummy if you say to yourself that you can do something then you'll do it" and she climbed straight up the first wall like a little monkey. The mind is THE most powerful thing, use it to your advantage.
8. SLEEP - this is crucial in fighting off infection, and other illnesses. Night time is the time when the body repairs itself, both physically (10.30- 2am) and mentally (2am til 6am) so getting your eight hours a night in is very important. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, gastro intestinal problems and other medical illnesses so hit that sack at a decent time.
9.LET GO OF STRESS - easier said than done; most people I know have some stress in their lives to a greater or lesser extent. It's how we deal with it that's the issue. Under constant stress our body's are bombarded with stress hormones and they can cause the immune systems ability to fight disease to decrease. Stress relieving solutions are a blog all on their own but in brief try to create balance in your life - meditation, yoga, relaxation, keeping a stress diary - writing things down gets it out of your head, dance, listen to music, meet friends. Basically off load in whatever way feels right.
A 'friend' once said to me that my life was like an episode of Dallas. That made me stop and take a good look at what I was doing, and he was right. Sometimes it's just time to take a chill pill............
10. Avoid toxic pollutants such as PCBS. Buy organic where at all possible, stay away from cigarette smoke, alcohol (OK within reason) and illicit drugs - all of these play a part in the build up of toxins in the body, helping to prevent your immune system from functioning optimally. Read food labels and avoid those containing unnecessary chemicals. Choose naturally derived household cleaners too, these products are now readily available in supermarkets.
So there you have it, all of the above are possible with some thought and time. Stay healthy this winter, and live your life to the full.