You may not realise it but sleep and immunity go hand in hand. Trouble sleeping is often caused by stress, anxiety and worries. When the body is under mental or physical stress it releases cortisol and adrenaline and these stress hormones reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. If you are getting more than 1-2 coughs and colds per year, it would indicate that you need to give your immune system that little bit of extra support and learn to manage your stress levels.
How To Build A Strong Immune System
Having a body detox and body cleanse is a great way to give your immune system a boost. The easiest way to do this is by removing inflammatory items such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods and replacing them with as many colours of fruits and vegetables as possible.
You will be providing your immune system with all the essential nutrients to keep it strong and fend off bacteria, viruses and infections. You want to aim for 2-3 fruits and 7-8 vegetables per day, with at least 20-30 different varieties per week. The more variety means the more diverse bacteria for your gut flora and higher levels of protective phytochemicals. And since 70% of your immune system is in the gut, it’s important that the gut is functioning properly, so if you’re suffering with IBS, you need to get that under control!
IBS is one of the biggest problems I deal with in my clinical practice and it’s the most important gateway to a healthy immune system. It’s also directly correlated with hormonal imbalance, as the body isn’t able to detoxify hormones and wastes properly. This can cause a lot of problems with hormonal acne, in particular breakouts along the jawline and cheeks.
Getting the gut functioning properly is the first line of action, but using a clarifying cleanser such as this 100% Pure Natural Tea Tree & Willow one will help keep on top of the breakouts whilst you heal the gut. Drinking 2 litres of water a day is imperative to stay hydrated and help the body flush out toxins and wastes. Herbal, non caffeinated tea counts towards this target and Pukka Tea is my all time favourite organic tea brand as they have such a wide selection.
Low levels of Vitamin D have been detected in people with weak immune systems. The best food sources come from mushrooms, oily fish and eggs but it’s also important to get a top up in the winter months when we aren’t getting enough vitamin D from the sun. I really like Viridian’s Liquid Vitamin D3 for this purpose.
The immune system also heavily relies on zinc which can be found in chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds. The highest zinc sources come from shellfish, in particular, oysters but it’s always worth getting a top up from a high potency multivitamin full of natural ingredients such as Terranova’s Living Multinutrient.
Some of the best superfoods to eat to boost the immune system are onions and garlic. Raw is even better if you can stomach it, but your friends may not be too keen if you’re munching raw garlic everyday! Having a smoothie is a great way to pack loads of fruits and vegetables in to reach your daily target and I always add in WelleCo’s Super Elixir Greens Mix so that I get high doses of all the best superfoods such as spirulina, wheat and barley grass as well as some of the best medicinal mushrooms, shiitake and maitake.
How Can Good Habits & Rituals Improve Your Sleep & Immune System?
Practicing good sleep hygiene is the most important way to overcome poor sleep. And because sleep is the time when our immune system kicks into action you need to make sure you are getting a solid 7-8 hours a night.
If you follow my top daily routines for good sleep, I guarantee you will be sleeping like a baby in no time!
Remove all blue light from screens one hour before bed. Blue light blocks melatonin release from the pineal gland, which is the hormone which helps you sleep.
If you have time, indulge in a relaxing bubble bath, listen to some music and just float your stress away. I love Neal's Yard Remedies Aromatic Bath Bubbles for this!
Spend two to three minutes deep breathing when you get into bed. Follow a pattern of creating in for four counts, holding for four and exhaling for four. This will instantly put the nervous system in the rest and digest state, slow the heart rate and reduce your stress levels.
Prepare the bedroom for sleep - dim the lights 30 minutes before you go to sleep. I then either light a candle or use some Neom De-Stress Essential Oil in my diffuser to create a calming space.
So there you have it! My top tips of how to sleep better which will improve and strengthen your immune system.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Kelly is a Registered Nutritional Therapist who focuses on positive physical and mental wellbeing, achieved through diet, lifestyle, sleep and exercise. Having struggled for years with IBS and hormonal imbalance, and increasingly frustrated with the lack of support and helpful advice from her GP, Kelly began her own journey of healing the body from the inside out. After seeing huge improvements she quit her job to study nutrition and focus on harnessing the healing powers of food to help other people in similar situations.