Updated: Sep 1, 2020
As Autumn gets into full swing, it's a great time to focus some extra special attention on our
immune systems. And especially with the current virus, which shall not be named, doing the rounds.
But what is your immune system? We've all heard of it and we all basically know it's there to protect us against attacks from germs and viruses, but how does it actually do that?
Well, it's basically a memory bank. White blood cells called T and B Lymphocytes keep a record of every microbe it has ever defeated. Retaining that memory means that the next time the same bug attacks (like the same strain of cold or flu), it can destroy it more quickly, therefore stopping it from multiplying and making you feel sick.
Infections like the cold and flu have to be fought many times because of the varying strains of the same type of virus. That means if the cold or flu you catch in December is different to the one you had in July, your immune system won't necessarily know what to do to stop it multiplying.
There are several parts to the immune system. These are:
white blood cells
They all play and important and complex part in protecting us, but the white blood cells are the primary defence. They go off around the body, hunting foreign invaders (microbes) such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. When they find them, they launch an immune attack.
In a healthy individual, who is properly nourished, not too stressed out, has access to green,
natural spaces and has a tippy toppy digestive system, the immune system ticks over nicely, day by day and year on year.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way and things like pollution, poor nutrition, trauma and above all STRESS have a detrimental impact on our immunity.
To start off this month of immune boosting, let's look first at the signs of a less than optimal immune system:
High Stress - living a stressful life? Work on your mind, kids driving you mad, not eating as well as you should? Stress causes a decrease in the production of those lovely white blood cells (lymphocytes) which keep our immune system at full capacity.
Constant Colds - it's normal to catch a cold every now and again. Most people come down with the lurgy a couple of times a year. But if you're getting colds three or more times a year, that could mean your immune system could do with a boost. Colds should also last around 7 to 10 days. So if they drag on longer than that, you know something is wrong.
Stomach Issues - believe it or not, your gut and immune system are intrinsically linked. If you suffer from flatulence, diarrhoea or constipation it could mean your gut flora is not up to par and that has a knock on effect on your immunity
Wounds Are Slow To Heal - have you ever marvelled at how quickly and efficiently our bodies can repair cuts and scrapes? It's nothing short of amazing. But if you find your cuts and bruises are slow to heal, that could mean your immune system is feeling the pressure.
Frequent Infections - I think we all know someone at work who is constantly off with a sinus infection or an ear infection. Or a friend who is on another course of antibiotics. This could mean (almost certainly does) that their immune system needs attention.
Fatigue - last but not least, fatigue is a big one with immunity. Even if you're getting your 7-8 hours of quality sleep and you still wake up tired and drained, this could mean your immune system is stealing all your energy to fight any possible germ attacks. Our bodies are so clever and will conserve energy, just in case.
That's our basic intro to the immune system. Next week we'll have a look at food and nutrition and the part it plays in maintaining good immunity.
Work one-to-one with me to boost your immunity and get yourself in top shape for the winter!