Your immune system is a beautifully intricate symphony that floods your entire body with health-positive activities – add a powerful immune-boosting protocol to your lifestyle – do it one activity at a time making each one into a habit and soon your life will be filled with wellbeing practices, effortlessly.
It’s quite extraordinary delving into the body and how everything works in such concert with everything else. Everything you put in to your body, everything you do with it, has an effect. Your strength, all of it, is within. When it comes to your immune system, there are many ways to keep it strong and primed to do its magic within your body.
1. KNOW YOUR ALLIES
South Africa is filled with incredible plants that have been used for centuries as natural medicines. Get to know these local immune-boosting plants and tap in to your inner practitioner. Take an immune boosting tincture or elixir as an ongoing practice or at least take a course at the change of each season as your body gets accustomed to temperature and humidity changes.
● Sutherlandia frutescens is a South African shrub that has been long lauded for it’s incredible healing properties. In Zulu, its name means ‘the one that drives away the darkness’, in seTswna, it means ‘it changes’. As a traditional remedy of the leaves made into an infusion, it is said to treat fever, flu, chicken-pox, haemorrhoids, stomach and liver problems, diarrhoea and rheumatism. The scientific community has praised it for its immune-boosting, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and it has been used as a treatment for cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.
● Leonotis Leonurus is another South African herb is great for natural pain relief – it’s also anti-inflammatory and hypoglycaemic, and has been traditionally used as an infusion or tincture to treat TB, jaundice, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, diabetes, viral hepatitis, dysentery, and diarrhoea.
● Mullien – traditionally, this herb has been used for respiratory issues like asthma, coughs and TB, as well as coughs and colds. It’s also been used for haemorrhoids, burns, bruises and gout. Research has also shown that it has some antiviral effects against herpes and flu.
2. MODIFY YOUR MIND
“Optimal functioning of the immune system, it turns out, is dependent upon feeling good.” Marcey Shapiro, Freedom From Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Emotional Well-Being
Meditate daily for 10 minutes. Focus on how intelligent and beautiful your body is and how perfectly it has been designed. As you breathe, visualise oxygen entering your entire body, touching every cell, every atom of you and as you breathe out, imagine all the pain, hurt, sickness and negativity leaving your body. Celebrate your own magnificence and be grateful for the strength you have within you.
To assist your practise, download one of these apps for inspiration:
Calm | available from Google Play and Apple Store, Calm provides guided sessions from three to 25 minutes on various topics, as well as sleep and nature sounds, and breathing exercises.
Aura | Also available on Google Play and Apple Store, Aura allows you to track your moods and review patterns about how you feel, as well as set reminders to breath and take breaks throughout the day.
Consider taking a neuro elixir, especially one with an adaptogen like Ashwagandha which helps the body adapt, adjust and recalibrate itself within emotional and physical surroundings. Adaptogens are nourishing, bringing nutritive strength; normalising, adjusting what may be too high or too low; because they are non-specific, they act on whatever part of the body may need help. Adaptogens are non-toxic and safe to use over extended periods.
3. RESET YOUR GUT
Add probiotics to your diet – lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are immune boosters and of course probiotics are essential for optimal gut health. Get yours from fermented food like sauerkraut, kvass, naturally fermented pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh and miso. Simply make a habit of adding a tablespoon of sauerkraut to every meal.
You can also integrate immune boosting foods rich in immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin C and carotenoids. Resolve to incorporate one of these each day: broccoli, spinach or red bell peppers for vitamin C; carrots, sweet potatoes or kale for carotenoids. Spice your food up with garlic, onions, ginger or turmeric, all of which have great antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A tot of beet kvass is a perfect complement.
4. GO OUTSIDE
“Nature itself is the best physician.” Hippocrates
Nature knows best and if you can spend time in nature every day, your mood will improve along with your immune system. In fact, research shows that spending time in nature can assist your body in protecting you against a vast range of disease, from diabetes to heart disease, as well as alleviating depression. Digging your hands in the soil is said to transfer beneficial bacteria into your body. Besides that, vitamin D comes from being outdoors in sunshine. Exercise is essential, so a brisk walk or jog in nature is highly beneficial.
Exercise causes a change in your antibodies and white blood cells, which are the immune cells that fight disease. When you exercise, these cells circulate more quickly, so they can detect illnesses more rapidly. Exercise also slows down the release of stress hormones. Of course, yoga has been known for centuries to strengthen body, mind and immunity, so that’s a highly effective exercise option too. Increased levels of stress affect your immune system negatively and one of the most effective ways to reduce stress is to exercise regularly. Imbibing elixirs made from plants is like sipping nature, these are priceless.