Healthy daily habits to nurture better immune health from within.
5 minute read
Do I Have A Weak Immune System?
It can be easy to presume that your immune system is strong if you feel fit and well most of the time, but signs your immune system may not be can be tricky to spot. Knowing what to look out for can help you take proactive steps to boost your immune health.
If any (or all) of the below symptoms are things you struggle with most of the time, then the root cause could be a weakened immune system. Identifying this can help you to strengthen your immunity and alleviate these symptoms.
- Digestive Discomfort
For humans, 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, so it makes sense that signs of poor immune health could be reflected as digestive issues.
Bacteria and viruses often manifest as bowel issues. Frequent diarrhoea or constipation which lasts over 2 weeks could be a sign of underlying low immunity.
Less severe symptoms such as bloating, nausea, acid reflux and heartburn could also be warning signs of a weak immune system.
If you don't have a digestive condition and recognise any of these symptoms as things you suffer with often, immune health could be the underlying cause.
- Constant Lack of Energy
Sleep is the body’s opportunity to rest, repair and rejuvenate. When it comes to the immune system, low energy levels and fatigue are often a red flag for poor immune health.
Feeling tired is definitely an easy symptom to spot. If you're otherwise well - exercising, sleeping and eating well - but still suffer with a constant lack of energy then bolstering your immune system could get to the root cause.
- Feeling Stressed & Overwhelmed
Our busy, hectic lifestyles almost make stress feel like the norm, but chronic stress is as bad for the body as it is the mind.
When we are stressed our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is vastly reduced, which weakens the immune system and leaves us more susceptible to illness.
Common signs that stress is taking its toll on your immunity are headaches, increased anxiety, lack of mental clarity and feeling generally 'run down'.
- Bad Skin Outbreaks
Skin conditions are often the result of an autoimmune response – where the immune system kicks into overdrive and wrongly attacks healthy tissue and cells, causing damage.
Acne and eczema are both examples of an autoimmune response and less severe skin issues could indicate that your immune system is running low.
- Frequently Catching Illnesses
The easiest way to recognise that your immune system is weakened is if you’re feeling ‘run down.’ Things like getting cold, flu and viral infections often, are all signs of this.
If you’re the first to catch a bug that’s going around or tend to catch an illness at a certain time of the year (like autumn) then this could be a warning of poor immunity too.
5 Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System
Once you understand the signs and symptoms of a weakened immune system, you can start to make positive changes to begin strengthening it again. It’s as simple as making some small changes to your everyday that work in favour of your immune system, instead of against it.
Here are 5 natural ways to bolster your immune system.
1. Get more active
Leading an active lifestyle has many benefits for immune health. Regular exercise helps to reduce chronic inflammation and an exercise has also been shown to stimulate the production of protective antibodies, as well as immune cells.
Even moderate exercise can help to reduce the risk of infection and illness. One study found that those who participated in an 8-week moderate exercise course reduced their risk of illness by 14% and their number of sick days off work by 23%, compared with those who didn’t.
One of the easiest ways to get more movement in your busy life is by making simple exercise part of your daily routine. Choose the stairs, park further away from work and get out for a brisk walk on your break.
2. Prioritise sleep
Getting enough sleep and rest are vital to boosting the immune system, as when we are asleep our body is hard at work to repair damage and rejuvenate cells.
Without enough sleep, the body makes fewer cytokines – proteins which target inflammation and infection, activating an immune response. The less sleep you have, the more likely you are to get sick, as these defences are weakened.
Research has consistently shown the link between sleep deprivation and reduced immune function. A nap of 20-30 minutes has been shown to reduce stress and offset this negative impact of sleep deprivation on the immune system.
Be sure to have a winding-down routine in the evening with less screen time to encourage a better quality sleep. You can learn more in our blog post below.
3. Look after your mental wellbeing
Both the immune system and our emotions are protective to the body if working optimally and detrimental to our health if not.
Studies have found that negative emotional states such as low mood, chronic stress and anxiety can reduce the production of T cells and increase inflammation in the body, which both work against the immune system.
You can support your own mental wellbeing daily by practicing mindfulness, breathing techniques and by keeping a gratitude journal. Here are some simple mental wellbeing lifestyle hacks to support immunity and overall wellness.
🌱 Start each morning with gratitude and mindfulness
🌱 Spend more time outdoors in nature
🌱 Organise your thoughts with a written to-do list
🌱 Avoid screen time in the evening, choose a book instead
🌱 Prioritise sleep and make your bedroom a sleep haven
4. Reduce your exposure to toxins
Our immune systems are designed to identify pathogens and destroy them before they can cause harm in the body. This is a problem in the modern world where we are exposed to more toxins than ever.
Things like poor air quality, poor water quality and avoidable toxins like alcohol and cigarettes all take their toll on the immune system. Daily exposure to them weakens your body’s defences against more threatening pathogens that we have no control over.
Minimising your exposure to toxins allows your immune system to focus on other threats like bacteria and viruses, which are potentially more harmful.
You can minimise your daily exposure to toxins by enjoying filtered water, investing in a simple air purifier and avoiding drinking too much alcohol.
5. Eat foods which nurture the immune system
Nutrients from the diet are essential to supply our immune system with the tools it needs to function best. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and healthy fats are all needed to boost the immune system. Similarly, harmful nutrients can work against it.
There’s no secret diet for the immune system – just be sure to eat plenty of fruit, veg, protein and healthy fats every day – and avoid processed junk foods which cause inflammation. This should give you the essential nutrients you need to support immune health.
Nutrients your immune system loves include:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
So it makes sense that by enjoying a healthy diet you can help to support optimal immune function and in turn overall health and wellness. Here are some things to focus on when eating for immunity.
- Consider supplementing your diet with nutrients which are harder to come by: Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Omega-3 & Iron (if you're veggie or vegan).
- Concentrate on your protein intake as one of protein’s major functions in the body is to repair damage. Organic Plant Protein powders, like our Cacao Plant Protein and Green Plant Protein blends are a great way to increase your intake daily as they are easily added to meals and drinks.
- Aim for your 5-a-day and always ‘eat the rainbow’ to get enough antioxidants and vitamins from fruit & veg - citrus fruits and leafy greens are two of the best foods for a healthy immune system.
- Boost your diet with immune enhancing natural superfoods, which provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre in a potent form.
- Incorporate fermented foods and probiotics which are great for gut health and the immune system - kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha are great examples.
- Enjoy wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates to get more gut and immune boosting fibre.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids, as hydration is key for optimal immune function.
Looking after your immune system should be part of your everyday routine. With some simple healthy living habits as well as mindfulness and focus, you can help to boost your immune system and stay as happy and healthy as possible.
Rheal Superfoods for Optimal Immune Health 🌱
Superfoods are a great addition to your healthy routine to provide nutrients which nurture your immune system in a convenient, reliable and delicious powder.
You can add our superfoods blends to shakes, smoothies, healthy recipes and even simply plain water for a powerful immune boost.
Our chosen bundle for immune support is the Detox Bundle. This is a bundle of Clean Greens, Berry Beauty and Green Plant Protein.
Adding a scoop of each to meals and drinks provides a nutrient-dense source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and plant protein which your immune system loves!
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet
Sleep and immune function - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
Stress, Illness and the Immune System - https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html
Autoimmune Disease: Why Is My Immune System Attacking Itself? - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/autoimmune-disease-why-is-my-immune-system-attacking-itself
Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159116305645
The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6523821/
How Sleep Affects Immunity - https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity
Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds? - https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep
Affective immunology: where emotions and the immune response converge - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442367/
How to look after your mental health - https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
Environmental toxins impair immune system over multiple generations - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191002144257.htm
Diet and Immune Function - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/