I’ve just spent the weekend hanging out with a few billion (or so) of the wrong kind of germs, resulting in a Saturday night snuggling on the couch with the hubby watching a couple of movies and feeling a little sorry for myself. Only sorry for myself because of my cold – the snuggling bit was actually pretty wonderful and almost made being sick worth it. But back to the sickness…
So I’m on the mend now – thankfully – which I credit to a having a healthy lifestyle and giving my body the right nutrients it needs to fight off those few billion germs. But I really wanted to share with you my plan of attack when I’m sick, and explain a little bit how this whole immune system actually works. It might give you a better understanding of what your body’s going through next time you’re sniffing, sneezing and generally feeling pretty crap!
So, the immune system. It lives inside you but you probably don’t know much about it right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us have no idea, other than when it’s healthy you’re healthy, and when it’s not then all kinds of bad things happen. Your immune system is made up of a bunch of different body parts (your spleen, bone marrow, thymus, hormones, even skin!) but it’s your white blood cells that are the shining star here.
These little guys basically just cruise around killing off viruses and bacteria, and what’s really amazing is that they act totally independently of each other. They can consume other cells and bacteria, clone themselves, produce antibodies and seek out and destroy virus cells! Yep, they’re pretty special. So if you have a strong immune system, you’re basically saying you have a high white blood cell count.
But let’s be honest – saying you have a strong immune system sounds way better.
Now if you get sick, then what you really want to be doing is boosting your immune system back up again. It’s a miraculous little machine, your body, and you want to treat it with love and give it what it needs to function at its best! So here’s a rundown of what I’ve been doing the last couple of days, to get my system back to its healthiest best.
+ Firstly, fruit and veg. Lots of good, fresh, fruit and veg. Your body wants nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so get them into ya! Make sure you get some good fats into your diet too, especially omega 3s. This weekend I was all about the salads, spirulina and blueberry smoothies and veggie dishes, with a high quality multi-vitamin thrown in for good measure.
+ Exercise! Yes, get your body moving. Some nice, gentle exercise is really beneficial when you’re not well – it’s all about getting the blood circulating and the body sweating. I went to the gym for a light run followed by some yoga stretches over the weekend and I left feeling ah-may-zing.
+ Mind your gut! About 80% of your bacteria-fighting white blood cells live in your intestines, so you want them to be in tip top shape. You can do this by eating and drinking fermented food and drink, which add loads of good bacteria into your belly. Think kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, drinking apple cider vinegar in water or kombucha. I brew my own kombucha so luckily I had this ready and on tap over the weekend! You can also take a probiotic and your local health shop will have a good range for you.
+ Get snoozing. Sleep, apart from being fabulous, is very necessary for your body to repair and rebuild. Aim for at least 8 hours, and try to be asleep between 10pm and 6am when a lot of the body repairing takes place. Getting a good amount of sleep also helps to lower your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which damage the immune system when they get too high. I was in bed by about 8pm on Saturday night! And I loved it.
+ Wash your hands, wash your bod! Sounds pretty basic but it’s so easy to forget these little things. Take warm showers, wash your hands after using the bathroom or handling anything dirty, or before handling food that you’re about to eat. And don’t use antibacterial soaps! They kill all the good bacteria that you actually need to boost the immune system, so they’re not doing you any good. Warm, soapy water is all you need.
+ And finally, get into the coconut oil! Drink it, eat it, oil pull with it. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid which is super good for your immune system, and it’s antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. Plus, you know, it tastes delicious so this isn’t a hard habit to get into!
So that’s it! When you give your immune system what it needs, it will reward you by making you feel fabulous again. After following these really simple and natural ideas for just two days I was up and running, at work and feeling back to about 90% of my usual self. Bring on the last 10%!
Have you been feeling a bit run down lately? What’s your usual routine when you’re under the weather? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
With love and immunity,