Have you ever wondered why some viruses affect some people more than others?
The simple answer is, it’s all to do with the immune system. Children, the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems are most susceptible whilst those with a healthy immune system tend not to be affected.
Most viruses produce relatively mild, cold like symptoms; however others can be severe involving serious pneumonia, other complications and in some instances, death.
So, what causes a suppressed immune system?
- Stress, including psychological trauma, physical and mental stress
- Increasing age
- Poor diet and lifestyle
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of sunshine
- Poor sleep
- Excessive hygiene in early life, preventing immune exposure
- Poor food hygiene, or inadequate hand washing
- Medications: including antibiotics, proton-pump inhibitors, paracetamol, immune suppressant
- Environmental toxic exposure
So, how do you know if you have a suppressed immune system?
- Recurrent acute infections
- Muscular pain and weakness
- Gut pain, bloating or abnormal bowel movements
- Chronic congestion, chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Unexplained inflammation
How do you strengthen your immune system?
Long term, the most important single factor is prevention. “Prevention is better than Cure” and that really applies when it comes to viruses of all types.
We often forget the role of our gut when it comes to immunity. Believe it or not, your gastrointestinal tract contains approximately 70% of your immune system, so ensuring your gut is populated with plenty of beneficial micro-organisms (‘good bugs’) is central to you maintaining optimal immune function. These beneficial bacteria or ‘probiotics’ are now understood to have very different health benefits depending upon their subset or ‘strain’, with certain specific strains able to support your immune system.
In simple terms, good gut health is vital for a strong immune system.
Use of certain herbs and botanicals is a very effective way of strengthening the immune system and help to relieve the symptoms associated with colds and flu’s & provide relief from upper respiratory tract infections.
The following are particularly effective:
- Echinacea Purpurea
- Ganoderma Lucidum
- Eupatorium perfoliatum
Once you have strengthened your immune system, keeping it strong will significantly reduce your susceptibility to all types of viruses.
Here are some tips to kick-start your immune system back to full strength:
- Staying hydrated is essential daily, however if you are feeling like you are coming down with a cold/flu/virus hydration becomes even more essential as the fluids will act to flush out toxic by-products.
- Lack of specific nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D are implicated in lowering our defences which protect us against viruses.
- Garlic is a wonderful natural antibacterial and antiviral agent that is very beneficial for a weakened immunity.
- Frequent gargling with a natural throat antibacterial.
- Keep stress under control. Stress hormones (cortisol, adrenalin and nor-adrenalin) supress the immunity therefore addressing stress is key to overcoming immune suppression. Stress formulas that contain anti-viral’s such as Hypericum are a good way to combat stress and viruses.
- Busy people often forget to prioritise regular ‘down-time’, but the stress of being on the go all the time can significantly drain your immune function and leave you more susceptible to falling prey to any viruses you may come in contact with. Help yourself recharge by scheduling regular relaxation and ‘me time’ such as reading a good book, getting a massage, or perhaps a yoga class followed by a long soak in a warm Epson Salt bath.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep as sufficient sleep enables your body to rest and repair – Lactium is a natural relaxant which will help you have a sounder relaxed sleep.
- Diet: when it comes to your diet cut back or eliminate completely cereal-based, grain-based and sugar-based carbs if you feel like you are starting to come down with a virus. Focus on protein with every meal and vegetables that are low GI (lower in sugars) and anti-inflammatory. Avoid mucus forming foods such as dairy, bananas, sugars, grain products and ice-cold drinks
What practical steps can you take right now?
Although there is massive amount of education on this subject, along with government campaigns, it seems the general public are still not clear on how they can be proactive in increasing their immune system and stopping the spread of some of the flu like viruses.
Most viruses are spread primarily via respiratory droplets which are little bits of liquid released when we sneeze, cough or talk. The virus contained in these droplets infect others via the nose, eyes and mouth.
Follow these simple steps:
- Washing our hands before eating and drinking
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Keep surfaces clean that could be contaminated
- Limit contact with those who have viruses
- Keep warm in winter and cool in summer
Also, with winter on its way in the southern hemisphere, not only do you feel the chill in the air with days getting shorter and nights getting colder our immune system starts to work harder to protect us.
The drop in temperature and change in climate often leads to reduced exercise and increased food consumption which further weakens the immune system, so it’s important to keep your body healthy and prepared.
Your immune system is trying to protect you, so it is essential you do everything you can to help keep your immune system strong so it can do the job it is designed for….Keeping you healthy and virus free.
Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this communication are based on experience of the staff at LTLA Pty Ltd and have not been evaluated by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration or equivalent regulatory body in other countries. The advice provided by LTLA Pty Ltd is not designed for people who are under 18 years of age, pregnant, breast feeding, have diabetes, have existing medical conditions or taking medications without first consulting a health care practitioner. Any products referred to in this communication are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.