Immune System Health - Healthy Living
Published: 1st June, 2021 in: Health Advice
One of the most impressive things about the immune system is how it keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated. This is found in some white blood cells, known as memory cells. This means it can recognise and get rid of a microbe if it enters the body again, before it multiplies and makes you feel ill. This is how vaccines work, by entering a small amount of a virus into our immune system, so your body can learn how to fight it.
Some infections, like the flu, common cold and coronavirus, have to be fought many times, because so many different viruses or strains of the same type of virus can cause illnesses. Catching a cold or flu from one virus does not give you immunity against the others.
Common disorders of the immune system
It is common for people to have an over or underactive immune system. Overactivity of the immune system can take many forms, including:
Allergic diseases are where the immune system makes an overly strong response to allergens. Allergic diseases are very common, and they include allergies to foods, medications or stinging insects, anaphylaxis, hay fever, sinus disease, asthma, hives and dermatitis and eczema.
Autoimmune diseases are where the immune system mounts a response against normal components of the body. Autoimmune diseases range from common to rare, including things like multiple sclerosis, autoimmune thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic vasculitis.
If you suspect that your immune system may be overactive or underactive, you should seek advice from your GP as they can test and diagnose your condition accurately to ensure you are given the right treatment for your condition.
Treating the flu
The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary. As we have learnt from coronavirus, it is best to stay indoors to avoid spreading the disease, wash your hands and door handles and common places people touch to get rid of germs.
Ways to help immune system function better
Immune health is therefore key to a functioning and healthy body. Diet and lifestyle helps to support underlying health and optimise immune function. Whilst some of these might sound obvious, it is important to try to do them all to help your immune system function properly.
General advice is to supplement during the winter months in the UK for many people, as our bodies can't produce enough from sunlight and diet tends to be a poor source as food often contains only low levels. Your GP can check your vitamin D levels and recommend the correct dosage for vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is an important immune function regulator and being deficient will make you more at risk. You can take our Ultra Vitamin D3 Tablets which will help to support your immune system function.
You can also do a YPV Vitamin D Home Test Kit to determine your vitamin D levels, which allows you to ensure you are taking the optimal dosage of vitamin D.
Zinc is also so important for immune function as a zinc deficiency can lead to immune dysfunction and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. Zinc requirements tend to increase as you get older so taking a zinc tablet everyday is likely to be beneficial for most people. Take Lamberts Zinc Citrate Tablets as an ideal supplement for long term use.
There is evidence to show the importance of vitamin C for the benefit of overall health. 500mg - 1g of vitamin C daily during flu season is a good idea to reduce chances of infections. Lamberts Vitamin C Tablets are specially formulated to release the vitamin C gradually over 6-8 hours after swallowing, and Valupak Vitamin C Effervescent High Strength is a refreshing orange flavoured fizzy drink which helps deliver the benefits of this vitamin C.
Fruit and vegetable intake
Fish, lean meat, nuts, beans, olive oil and whole grains is the diet most associated
with good health. Aiming for 3 portions of fruit and 5 portions of vegetables daily will help your immune system stay strong. Brazil nuts may be a particularly helpful inclusion as they are high in selenium. Studies have demonstrated that increased blood levels of selenium are associated with enhanced immune response.
70% of immune function resides in the gut and a healthy digestion is important for a healthy immune system. Aim to eat probiotic foods to boost ‘good’ bacteria, and include foods including plain live yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, fermented soya and kimchi.
Vegetarians usually need to supplement with B12, iodine, omega 3 and often zinc
Take steps to reduce stress and worry where possible, as stress can affect immune function, which can lead to spots, making you feel run down and tired. Try stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises to combat this. You can read about the benefits of yoga on our blog here, to find out more.
Moderate exercise supports good immune function with inactivity and excessive exercise both being potentially detrimental. Aim to get outdoors and exercise at least 3 times a week.
Getting quality sleep
Poor quality sleep impacts immune function so aim to get adequate, good quality sleep. You can relax in the evenings by having a bath and hot drink so you’re ready for sleep. Make time to unwind a couple of hours before bed.
Not only for vegetarians, but many people can benefit from B-vitamin supplementation, which has been shown to be beneficial in managing workplace stress in otherwise healthy individuals. You can try our Day Lewis Vitamin B Complex Tablets for more support.
You can find out more about the immune system and the importance of keeping healthy to support its functions on our healthy living and conditions guide.