Are you always sick? Never sick? (yes, this is an issue!) Struggling with an autoimmune condition, allergies, asthma, skin issues? Do you want to take proactive steps to keep yourself healthy during cold and flu season? We are here for you!
When we talk about the immune system it is important to note that there are different types of immune responses. We have the acute response that we want to see in response to a virus or bacteria, then there is chronic low grade inflammation and other types include autoimmune disease, allergies, asthma etc. If you want more information about the immune system and how it works see our articles on immune cells, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease.
In the modern world of worsening viruses and infections and a decreasing state of health it is more important than ever to prioritize immune system support. As a Naturopathic Doctor I take a deep look into the causes of your immune system imbalances, discussed further below, and we can use lab work to assess exactly what is going on. From there all of our plans are personalized so that you get the best possible support to optimize your health and immunity.
Below I outline key areas that can affect your immune system. If you are ready to dive in and get immune healthy then book now!
What factors affect the immune system?
1. Digestive Health
The digestive system is home to 60-80% of the immune system. Your GI tract is on the front lines keeping food, bacteria, parasites, toxins and any number of other exposures from entering the body. This role means that your immune system concentrates here to monitor what’s happening and respond to any threats. In a healthy state this function keeps us alive! When there is a persistent bacterial or yeast infection, parasites, food intolerances, mold or environmental toxin exposure etc though this function can backfire and lead to chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, joint pain, thyroid and hormonal issues and much more!
2. Stress and sleep
Have you ever used hydrocortisone cream? It is an antiinflammatory cream that we use to suppress an overactive immune response in the case of eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. Did you know that our ‘stress’ hormone cortisol becomes cortisone in the body? Yes, cortisol can be immunosuppressive which is why, depending on where you are on the stress spectrum you can find yourself either always sick, or never sick.
Sleep is also highly affected by stress and incredibly important for the immune response. If you are struggling with insomnia or waking between 2-4 am and struggling to get back to sleep then that is a sign of something bigger that needs to be addressed.
3. Dietary patterns
What we do and don’t eat has a huge impact on how well our immune system can function. We have such a massive culinary tool belt when it comes to supporting immune function. Herbs such as thyme, garlic, onions, cumin and oregano have known antimicrobial powers. Mushrooms, rich in beta glucans, can help to regulate the immune system. Licorice and elderberry can be potent antivirals. Deeply coloured fruits and vegetables such as berries, eggplant, pomegranate are all rich in polyphenols and flavonoids which have antiinflammatory and immune supportive benefits. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! It is truly amazing how we can use food to support us!
We can also use food in such a way that it suppresses our immune system. Inflammatory foods, which will be different for each person, can increase inflammation and decrease our bodies ability to fight the invaders. Sugar has also been shown to suppress the immune system after consumption. These things can have a dramatic impact and should be considered when talking about immune health.
Nutrient deficiencies are running rampant in today’s age of nutrient poor foods. Did you know that even if you are eating ‘healthy’ you still aren’t getting the nutrients that we once did. This is because soils are becoming nutrient depleted and so is the food supply.
When it comes to the immune system it needs a lot of nutrient power to function. Zinc, selenium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and other antioxidants have been shown in the research to support immune system health.
Hormones and the immune system go hand in hand! We see evidence of this in the medical research in many ways, but a big one is knowing that most autoimmune conditions occur in women and onset after a pregnancy or during perimenopause. It is hardly fair that you are not only struggling with hormonal chaos and imbalances, but now you also have to consider your immune system?!
Outside of these phases of life women also document colds and flus surrounding their periods, along with cold sores, yeast infections, digestive troubles, headaches, allergies and joint pains. These are all signs that your immune system is in need of support, and your hormones could be the culprit!
If you are looking to keep your immune system fighting the invaders, when appropriate, and to avoid it from erroneously turning on itself. If you are dealing with signs of inflammation, hormonal imbalance, digestive issues and stress then reach out today to book your consultation! During this consult we will come up with your personalized immune support plan and help you to understand the underlying causes of your imbalances. You will be empowered to not only stay immune healthy, but to feel like yourself again, naturally!