What is the immune system?
The immune system protects your body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins. These are called antigens.
There are two main parts of the immune system:
- The innate immune system, which you are born with.
- The adaptive immune system, which you develop when your body is exposed to microbes or chemicals released by microbes.
How does it work?
The immune system can be activated by a lot of different antigens that the body doesn’t recognize as its own. When these antigens attach to special receptors on the immune system cells, a whole series of processes are triggered to defend your body.
Once the body has come into contact with a disease-causing germ for the first time, it usually stores information about the germ and how to fight it. Then, if it comes into contact with the germ again, it recognizes the germ straight away and can start fighting it faster.
How is the immune system linked to gut health?
A whopping 70 - 80% of your immune system is found in your gut.
How to improve your immune system?
- Fluid intake - Drinking plenty of water (ideally filtered) each day will help relieve constipation and keep your body hydrated.
- Limit alcohol & caffeine - Alcohol can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut and may also increase acid production in your stomach, leading to heartburn and acid reflux. Caffeine can also disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. However, in moderation (1 – 2 cups per day), there is little harm.
- Relaxation - Stress can impact your whole body, including your digestive and immune systems. When you experience stress, the blood and energy normally used by your digestive system are instead re-directed to other areas of your body. This can cause a variety of digestive conditions and symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers or changes with your bowel habits. Stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises and meditation can help reduce stress and prevent digestive issues.
- Movement - Physical activity helps to move food through your digestive system. Taking a walk after meals or engaging in as little as 30 minutes of physical activity a few days a week, can promote regular bowel movements and reduce inflammation in your body.
- Cold water - A cold shower may sound shockingly unappealing but there are so many health benefits associated with turning down the temperature. Exposing your body to cold water increases the amount of white blood cells in the body. It is these white blood cells that help protect your body against disease and support your immune system.
- Diet - As you would expect, what you eat can hugely impact on your gut health and immune system. Improving your diet by cutting out processed foods and including more prebiotic fiber (vegetables and legumes) will help support your immune health. Also, having probiotic-rich foods such as kefir and sauerkraut may reintroduce strong microbes, allowing for a more efficient gut microbiome, which is key for your immune system. Our Gut Repair Kit contains 3 unique formulas (Repair, Restore & Replenish), that work in conjunction with each other to support your entire digestive system.
While many things in life seem out of your control, the trick is to optimise your lifestyle, with simple adjustments, to help maintain a strong digestive system and support your immune system.
This will maximise your immune system’s ability to do its job and rise to the challenge when you need it most!