Unfortunately, winter is the season for cold and flu viruses. Each and every day, we are exposed to and in contact with millions of germs that are harmful for our health. While basic hygiene-conscious behaviour helps protect us from flu and other typical viruses circulating in cold weather, there are numerous other routes to maintaining and growing a robust immune system.
Beyond the weather, stress can also deplete immune function, having a crucial impact on immune cell activity and the severity and duration of diseases. London Natural Therapies also provide bespoke IV drips which help to de-stress and balance the central nervous system, along with a specific nervous system re-set (IV injection). This helps to re-balance the entire autonomic nervous system and regulates the vagus nerve.
However, there are preventative measures that are readily available in our diet, as well as our hydration and vitamin levels, which are all vital for safeguarding against colds, coughs and viruses. Here we will examine how to improve your immune system quickly, exploring the different options across our behaviour, supplementation and other treatments.
Why is the immune system important?
After living through a pandemic, our public conversation has been dominated by the language of immunology. Talk of herd immunity and antibodies have foregrounded the central role that the immune system plays in maintaining our health. Our immune system, a network of intricate stages and pathways in the body, protects us against the potentially harmful microbes we are exposed to on a daily basis, along with certain diseases. It recognises foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and takes immediate action.
Humans possess two types of immunity: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity describes the full-frontal defense from pathogens that try to enter our bodies, a defence which is built from protective barriers like skin, cilia, mucus and gastric acid. Adaptive or acquired immunity is a system that learns to recognise a pathogen. The body creates antibodies targeted to the foreign body, and attacks and destroys it, while remembering the identifiers for this substance and preparing the body to fight it even more efficiently next time.
How to boost your immune system quickly
1. Essential vitamins
There are three crucial immunity-boosting vitamins: vitamin C, B6 and E. A daily intake of vitamin C is incredibly valuable, as deficiency is proven to increase your vulnerability to getting sick. The vitamin can frequently be found in citrus fruits as well as cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system, and vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. The former is found in poultry, peanuts and soya beans, while the latter can be acquired by eating plant oils, nuts and seeds. Very often, in chronic and depleted conditions, high blood levels of key nutrients are required (for example, vitamin C) for the immune system or
other organs to respond in a way that is necessary for your body to overcome and heal.
Through our intravenous therapy, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients get transfused straight into the vein (used as a drip). This bypasses the whole digestive tract, which often has a compromised absorption ability, something that can lead to multiple nutritional deficiencies.
When the infused nutrients go directly into the bloodstream, they can provide nourishment to every cell in the body, serving as a unique and fast way to boost the immune system. Infusing 7.5g of vitamin C, for instance, will result in blood content levels of it ten times higher than if it was ingested orally.
Our ozone therapy is also a widely used and non-toxic treatment that is aimed at various levels of organisms. This stimulates the body’s own immunity and directly targets viruses, bacteria and pathogens, therefore helping to restore balance.
Hydration and the immune system
Our immune system is highly dependent on the nutrients in our bloodstream, itself 90% water. When there is not enough H2O in our system, we cannot effectively transport nutrients between the organ systems.
Hydration is also important for detoxification pathways, therefore helping to eliminate pathogens. Chronic dehydration may cause problems like muscle tension, headaches, low serotonin production and digestive issues.
Simple ways to boost hydration
There are few actions more practical than just frequently carrying a water bottle. Other lesser-known methods include alternating your beverages for warmer and hot drinks such as green tea or infused warm water. Refraining from alcohol is also advised, as it’s a diuretic, meaning it increases your rate of urination and is therefore dehydrating.
Fluid-filled foods, such as oranges, celery, strawberries, and yoghurt, also provide water content in your daily diet, along with healthy vegetable soups. Avoid processed and fried foods such as crisps or frozen and oven-ready meals, as they are dehydrants that usurp essential moisture from your system.
3. A balanced diet
As Harvard Health reminds us, the design of the immune system is complex, and there is not one individual food or food groups that boost immunity quickly. Instead, “each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients”.
Which foods boost the immune system?
A diet that lacks variation and consists of saturated fats and processed foods will be detrimental to a healthy immune system, as these offset helpful microorganisms (very small organisms, such as bacteria) by fostering the presence of pathobionts, which impair immunity. All in all, the development of the microbiome — the body’s internal house of microorganisms that is found in the gut and helps train and develop our immune system — is determined largely by our diet.
A healthy, balanced diet will consist of both prebiotic and probiotic foods. Probiotics include yoghurt and cultured or fermented vegetables, bananas, kombucha and miso, while prebiotics are the more fibrous foods, such as whole grains and legumes. Together, these promote good overall gut health and help preserve the microbiome, with probiotics containing live, helpful bacteria, and prebiotics serving to preserve the healthy colonies of this bacteria. A diet that is balanced should also include nutrients that are essential for the maintenance of immune cells, including vitamin D, iron, zinc, selenium and proteins like glutamine.
4. Hygiene and sleep
It might appear to be an obvious decision, but, before Covid-19, the practices associated with good hygiene were not as widespread as they should have been. Avoiding touching your face, regularly washing your hands and wearing masks in crowded places are wise steps to protect against respiratory infection.
Aside from the actions that will keep your immune system out of battling with viruses, sleeping between seven and nine hours a night will contribute to innate and adaptive immunity. According to the Sleep Foundation, research has shown that “the interaction of immune system components during sleep reinforces the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognise and react to dangerous antigens”. The inflammatory response of our bodies ramps up during sleep, even when we are not ill.
For more information concerning our available treatments, get in touch to have a conversation about how to replenish your immunity.