Looking after yourself this winter: boosting your immune system

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Understanding what your immune system does and where it is found will help you to know how best to support it, and so give yourself a fighting chance of staying well and energised through the long winter months. 

Firstly, what is an immune system?
Simply put, along with your red blood cells there are white blood cells too. There are many different white blood cells which do different jobs, and like a good army they work together to expel the foe- such as a flu virus or bacteria in your food, that has entered your system. An example of one of these white blood cells is called a Neutrophil. This one is good to know about because it is the most common, and has the best job- it searches for the bacteria, swallows it up and kills it. 

So where is the immune system found in the body?
Your immune system is alive and working 24 hours a day, protecting you all the time, and isn’t located in just one part of your body but can be found in your tear ducts, on the surface of your skin, in your mouth and of course, very much in your gut. In fact did you know that your gut has 70% of your immune system in it? This is because there is no better place than the darkest depths of your gut for your immune cells to learn what is good bacteria and what is bad. And if your gut isn't feeling well- if it’s inflamed and overloaded (hello, IBS type symptoms), your immune system will not be able to thrive and won't be able to do its job well. This leads to a host of health issues ranging from not being able to shift a cold, to eczema and arthritis. So if your gut isn't feeling great, chances are your immune system won't be firing on all cylinders either.

So if I feel like I’m coming down with something, how do I boost my immune

Looking after your gut should be a main priority when supporting your immune system. This means taking out the things that might be impacting negatively on it- sugar, alcohol and caffeine being the main culprits (sorry). Then you need to put in all the things that make the gut happy, particularly gentle fibre, nutrient dense foods, broths, and probiotics. You can also up specific vitamins and minerals in your diet. The ones that are essential to a good functioning immune system are Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Magnesium - look out for a follow up post on this blog which will show you what you need to eat to ensure you’re getting enough of these.

Being a mum is full on and as we know, can be stressful at times. And your immune system is sensitive to this. So if you can, try and reduce your stress levels by getting as much sleep and rest as possible. Real relaxation time is so important, and during the course of a busy day most of us put our needs at the end of a very long list. But do what you can, as this will go towards supporting your immune system greatly and you should feel the benefits.

Josephine Cobb
Nutritional Therapy with a focus on natural healing to optimise your wellbeing. Working together on this positive journey towards feeling your best self.