When winter comes around every year, we hear that this is going to be the worst flu season on record....and for some people, it is.
Why is this?
Catching the flu is not really as easy as it seems. Your body has a great defence system to protect you from getting sick. Your immune system is designed to recognise invaders that are foreign to your body, and then go about mounting a defence against them...a bit like waging a war. And your body is designed to win.
So, why do some people fall in a heap and take weeks and weeks to get over a virus, while others seem to only have a mild bout of if and bounce back quickly?
There's a couple of reasons that I'd like to talk about here.
Firstly, for some people, their immune system just isn't functioning at its best, so the defence against the virus is weaker. This could be due to an underlying chronic health condition, or taking certain medications. Secondly, most people are stressed, don't get enough sleep, don't drink enough water, and they eat way too much sugar and junk food. This second reason is no doubt, the most common one.
One of the reasons you need to get on top of your stress is because it weakens your immune system. When you are chronically stressed, first of all, you stop noticing how stressed you really are, and continue to push yourself too hard in order to keep up with all your activities and responsibilites. You know, the late nights, doing 'just one more thing' because you feel time pressure, being unable to say 'no' to people and activities that rob you of productive time. This continual pushing through will eventually lead to sickness and quite possibly, chronic degenerative disease.
Stress is the 'great undoer' in life. You can eat perfectly, exercise every day, and take holidays every year, but if you don't learn how to manage your response to stress, it will eventually take its toll and undo the good you are doing in other areas of your life. And you won't be able to dodge the flu forever!
There is a beautiful class of herbs called Adaptogens which help your body adapt to stress and tame that raging beast that always seems to want to accompany you each day. Adaptogens help to moderate the stress response in your body and you find that your responses to stressful situations changes.
Insufficient sleep also contributes to poor immunity because it puts extra stress on your body just to be able to function the next day.
Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis helps to flush toxins out of your body and keeps your body hydrated. Your body needs water to carry out many of its daily functions, and if you don't drink enough, these functions are impaired.
Sugar and junk food impair the immune system and feed unfriendly bacteria in your gut. They also place more of a burden on the detoxification and elimination pathways in your body, which isn't helpful when your body is trying to fight a viral infection.
So, in order to keep your immune system strong and give yourself the best chance to fight off the viruses that come past you on a daily basis, try following these 5 tips:
1/ Learn stress management strategies
2/ Aim for 8 hours sleep every night
3/ Drink approximately 2 litres of water every day
4/ Give sugar and junk food an occasional place (1 or 2 times/month) in your diet instead of every day
5/ Get 20 minutes of sunshine on your skin every day to promote vitamin D3 production
If you would like to know more or need some help with your immune system, or if you recognise that your stress levels are compromising your health, send me an email, or give me a call.