- For people who get ill all the time
- For people who feel a lack of energy
- For people who have no idea how they can positively affect their immune system
Are you someone who gets sick frequently? Tired of getting sick and run-down, maybe? Do you lack energy? Here are some steps you can incorporate daily to help support your immune system.
What weakens the immune system?
A healthy gut is a prerequisite for good overall health and functioning of the body, a strong immune system and general wellbeing. Our gut, if laid out flat, would be the size of a tennis court. This surface area harbours up to 70% of our immune system and a whopping 2kg of bacteria! We also have immune cells in our tonsils, adenoids, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and skin. Such a huge percentage of our immune system is located in the gut because it’s basically the interface between the world and our body. It needs to make sure nothing foreign enters. Think of it as the gatekeeper of the body. We want that gatekeeper to be strong to keep invaders out.
Many things can contribute to a weak immune system. Some include:
Poor diet / lack of nutrients in the diet
Sugar, refined and processed foods
Lack of Sleep
Simple steps to help you build a healthy immune system – today!
1. BLOOD SUGAR BALANCING MEALS
What does this mean and why is it important? “Blood sugar balancing” simply means that for every meal that you eat, you make sure it contains protein, fat and fibre. This delays emptying (the release of sugar into the blood stream) and helps keep you fuller for longer. It prevents dips in energy, keeps you energised and also keeps your immune system working optimally. Meals that contain only carbohydrates cause large fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, which negatively impacts your immune health.
One of the simplest things you can do to support your immune health, starting from your very next meal, is to blood sugar balance it.
Tip 1: If you are about to eat a banana as a snack – add some nut butter or a small handful of nuts to it. The banana (or any other fruit with the exception of berries) can cause a surge in blood sugar but adding the nut/seeds will prevent this from happening as it takes longer to digest. This will keep you fuller for longer, as well as support your immune health.
Tip 2: If you have pasta with some tomato sauce, it lacks protein. Add protein (tofu, beans, etc.) to support better blood sugar levels and immune health. You can also add extra veggies. Things like courgettes, carrots and peppers add a lovely sweetness and you can’t taste the extra veggies in it!
Tip 3: If you are about to reach for a chocolate bar, go for a healthier snack, like our bars, which contain all the essential ingredients to support your immune health (fibre, protein, fat) with the addition of pre and probiotics to further strengthen it.
Tip 4: If you usually have a bowl of cereal or porridge for breakfast, add some nuts/seeds and berries. This will help keep your blood sugars balanced and you’re also going to be adding some colours and plant chemicals to help your immune system.
Exercise is great for your immune health. After you finish exercising, your body releases a surge of antioxidants. These can help clean up any damage in your body and support immune health. However, there is a sweet spot, too much exercise, just like too little, is not good at all. You don’t want to exercise to the point of exhaustion, just like you don’t want to sit on the couch all day.
The paper below shows how exercise can support the immune system by:
- Being anti-inflammatory/reducing inflammation
- Improving immune regulation
- Decreasing the risk of illness (2)
How can you start today?
- If you are not so active, something as simple as going for a walk is a great first step. Try to walk faster each time to slowly increase your heart rate!
- There are free incentives, like the Couch to 5K running plan, to get you more active.
- Meet up with a friend and go for a 5 minute jog, building up by a couple of minutes every day.
- If jogging is not your cup of tea, take up practices like yoga or pilates, or buy a small trampoline for your house and jump a little daily.
There are lots of drinks on the market today that are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, both of which hinder the function of your immune system. If you are going to grab a drink, go for something raw and cold pressed – as close to nature as possible, without added ingredients and preservatives. Another tip would be to look for drinks with a deep colour like purple, pink or red. There are natural plant chemicals that give these fruits/juices their colour. These plant chemicals can work magic in our gut and immune system, helping it work optimally. Studies have found that they increase good bacteria in your gut that can promote better immune health and can also start to heal damage – this study showed how raw pomegranate juice increased counts of good bacteria and lowered problematic bacteria. Simply swapping your sugary drink out for a healthier alternative can have a great impact on your immune health (1).
Your entire body is ultimately made from the foods that you eat. Did you know that you have a brand-new body every 7 years, made out of the foods you consume?
What you eat is important and will impact your immune and overall health. Some simple ways to optimise what you eat:
- Eat a diversity of plant foods daily. Plant foods include: vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, teas, herbs, beans, legumes, whole grains.
- Eat more probiotic rich foods. SO PERF cold pressed bars contain probiotics which are spore forming. Most probiotics are transient, this means they enter the gut and hang around for 5 – 7 days but then they leave. The probiotics used in SO PERF are spore-based, which means that they plant seeds in the gut and allow new good bacteria to grow.
- Eat a diversity of foods rich in fibre (aiming for 30 grams a day). Fibre and plant foods help to feed the existing bacteria living in your gut. One of the things these bacteria do is increase the number of t-regulatory cells, which helps regulate your immune function, as the name suggests. SO PERF bars are also loaded with fibre which feeds our microbes, known as prebiotics. Prebiotics are important because they feed the good bacteria that are already in your gut and allow them to grow and flourish.
- Try and eat a rainbow daily. Each colour contains a different plant chemical that your body needs. Eating a rainbow encourages the diversity of plant chemicals in your body.
- Only eat ingredients that are real. Try and avoid processed, junk and white refined sugary foods. These lack nutrients, so they will leave you nutrient-deprived and always hungry. Go for meals that contain protein, some wholegrain carbohydrates and colourful vegetables. For snacks, choose a piece of fruit, some nuts, or something from our range to support your health.
5. CUT BAD HABITS
Try and cut out/reduce the above triggers (smoking, alcohol, sugar, stress). All of these negatively affect your immune function.
6. SLEEP WELL
Sleep 7- 8 hours per night and make sure to sleep and wake at similar times daily. While you’re sleeping, your immune system is regenerating and working hard to keep you healthy.
7. GO OUTDOORS / FRESH AIR
Go outdoors and, if possible, breathe in the forest air – the plant microbes you breathe in support your immune function. Also, while you’re outside, you get some vitamin D, which is essential for good immune health.