If we were playing word association and I was to say immune system (likely event, that’s why I don’t get invited to party’s) what would you say? The common answers are colds, flu, kill, protection, defence, bugs, infections, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Those are all perfectly appropriate associations. However, what we don’t necessarily think about when we’re talking about the function of the immune system is its main purpose – to restore harmony and balance within the body. It’s not just a bug killer, but a bug balancer.
Something I’ve been supporting my awesome Mother star clients a lot with of late is achieving a sense of balance and empowerment during uncertain and stressful times that feel out of your control. And the immune system plays a big role here.
If you consider your immune system to be your greatest protection mechanism. It’s like having your own personal bodyguard with you all the time! As well as helping keep the peace in your body it is also your first line of defence needed to protect and defend you against any threats from your external environment.
The issue is, a lot of your stress and the weight of your ‘motherload’ as an exhausted, overstretched Mum being pushed to your limits right now, is likely coming from EMOTIONAL STRESS – anxiety, worry, anger, overwhelm and the feeling of being stuck in the unknown. This can be an issue when it comes to your immune health because the brain can’t distinguish between a threat that is real and a threat that is perceived.
If you perceive a threat – something that evokes a ‘survival-based emotion’ -something you’ve seen on Facebook, read online, watched on the news etc then the body receives the signal from your brain that you are under attack. It’s at this point your survival-based mechanisms kick in to keep you safe, and whos your number one bodyguard – YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.
That’s right – your immune system does not just protect you from bacteria and viruses, but it also influences your brain health, your emotional wellbeing and your digestion amongst others.
I absolutely love Dr Zach Bush’s quote:
“The body doesn’t have an organ called the immune system. The human body is an immune system.”Dr Zach Bush
So with that said you can see how easily your immune system can get overloaded. Afterall Your body hears everything your mind says. You can not separate them, your physiology and psychology are interconnected.
This is where my approach comes in – mother from inside out. When you connect back to you and nurture and nourish your inner world, you become much more resourceful and empowered to create better health and happiness in your external world.
Supporting your immune system is no different. It may feel like there are many things out of your control right now, but you, your health and your immune system health does not need to be one of them.
Here are my top tips and tools for supporting your immune system form inside out (please see my video below).
80% of our immune system lives in our gut. So whilst there are lots of things we can do to protect your immune system on the outside, to get to the root of immune system health you will massively benefit by nourishing and building resilience from the inside out.
Include a wide variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables in all the shades of the rainbow. Fruits and vegetables in different colours include a huge selection of phytonutrients and antioxidants which play a key role in supporting your immune system. As a rule of thumb, variety on your plate results in diversity in your microbiome (that’s your little colony of gut bugs). Aim for a minimum of 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit daily.
A key player in the effective functioning of our immune system, it’s crucial to ensure that vitamin D is a part of our diet. We have vitamin D receptors in every cell in the body and it’s the daddy (or should I say the mother!?) in terms of keeping inflammation at bay and supporting our immune system. Yes, we can synthesise our own vitamin D through sunlight but sunscreen blocks this production meaning that even on hot and sunny days we may not be making as much vitamin D as we could. As a ruke of thumb, if your shadow is larger than you, you will not be able to pull much vitamin D from the sun. Year-round supplementation may be a good idea – get in touch with a Nutritional Therapist to test your baseline levels and put together an effective, personalised supplementation regime.
Love your gut
With such a large proportion of our immune system calling the gut home, be sure to feed your gut bugs to keep them happy. Include lots of probiotics foods (sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and the like) as well as prebiotic foods such as oats, lentils and beans.
Get stuck into nature
The hygienic conditions if the 21st century don’t always work in our favour. To keep our immune system on its toes, it’s important to create exposure to microbes and bacteria to stimulate our immune system and build resilience. So get out into nature, get muddy, and embrace the dirt!
Reduce your stress
The world we live in is hugely overstimulating. It may feel like you’re constantly being bombarded with pieces of information which are sometimes consciously, but often subconsciously, overwhelming your senses. The fact that your immune system is unable to differentiate between you being stressed out by the latest news programme or by a life-threatening situation results in chronic activation of your immune system, resulting in chronic inflammation. Consider breathwork techniques, gentle restorative exercise and thorough sleep hygiene to reduce stress levels. And where possible, prioritise carving out some time every day to practice some self-love and self-care and a little bit of what you love.
Prefer to watch a video? I covered all of this and more in my recent MotherTime Live! You can watch the replay here.
Every Friday morning I show up live in the Energised Mother Facebook community to cover a range of topics voted for by you. I’ll share my top tips to get you feeling well an healthy from the inside out.