9 Practices to strengthen immune function
Often when we get the flu or a cold, we realise we have not been living with enough self-care or perhaps it is the only way our bodies can convince us to take time out. Metaphysically, colds have been translated as ‘too much going on, or the need to release emotions. It is a time for each person to connect with their body and support it with more attention.
On this note, here are some self-care practices to boost immunity:-
Cultivate the habit of a daily healing drink. Warm water with freshly squeezed lemon or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is cleansing and alkalinising. Other alternatives are grated ginger root, lemon, garlic and honey. Turmeric is another stimulating, anti-oxidant, health promoting herb to add to a morning drink.
Probiotics are contained in live bacteria and yeasts and are highly beneficial for the digestive system. They form part of the bacteria that help keep the gut healthy. Adding more probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and kombucha will do the trick. Or take a good multi-strain supplement twice a day.
Inviting calm relaxation, reassurance, respite, deep peace and a joyful state of being in place of any fear, worry, doubt or panic is a huge health support. Practices like meditation, yoga and mantra chanting are highly regarded for their ability to calm the mind and body. Scientific research shows that mindful meditation positively influences brain and immune function. TIP: try a Yoga Nidra guided meditation, this will introduce a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and deeply calm the body on all levels.
Motivational author Louise Hay, linked maladies to emotions and cites love as a powerful immune booster. Interestingly she describes the emotions relating to flu as a response to mass negativity and beliefs, fear, and a belief in statistics. And colds she describes as too much going on at once, mental confusion and disorder, small hurts. Take time out to attend to your needs, reach out to others and be more loving.
Hail to the Swedes and their practice of jumping into ice holes during winter. And to Wim Hof too who has popularised the benefits of prolonged cold exposure. Done correctly, cold exposure starts a cascade of health benefits, including the build-up of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation which strengthens immunity, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and mood enhancing endorphins.
Vitamin C is said to increase white blood cell production, important when fighting infections. E is also key; make an E salad with avos, sunflower seeds, and greens. D you can get from sun rays
SUPPLEMENTS & HERBS
Earth is filled with healing plants and herbs. These options have all or more antioxidants, anti inflammatories, anti-viral and anti-septic qualities: sutherlandia, shitake mushroom, echinacea, African potato, olive leaf, licorice root, wild garlic, milk thistle, black cumin, elderberry, astragalus and there are so many more. Take them as teas, tinctures or supplements.
Get your heart rate high with dancing, running or skipping. Be flexible and stretchy with Pilates; mindful with yoga and tai chi. Whichever way you do it, hiking in the hills, sporting, gym, ballet make sure you move in some form every day.
Repeated studies show that specified fasting has a beneficial effect on immunity. Fasting lowers white blood cell counts, and this triggers the immune system to start producing new white blood cells, a key component of the immune system. Once the body starts receiving food again, stem cells kick into high gear.