Are you tired of getting sick every change of the seasons, or suffering from through the winter months with the flu and lingering colds? Even if you already make the effort to try and stay healthy like washing your hands, getting enough sleep, and watching what you eat but are still highly susceptible to illness, it may be time to look into other ways to boost your immune system.
As easy as it might sound to eat a few super foods and take a vitamin or two, your immune system is not a single entity that you can improve easily, according to Harvard Health Publications. In fact, over 80 percent of your immune system is housed in your gut, which makes your digestive system and your immune system intricately linked. Implementing a holistic approach of meaningful diet and lifestyle changes is key to keeping your body overall healthy.
Healthy lifestyle changes
Just as important as what we put in our body are the lifestyle choices we make that directly impact our immune function. Most of us know the common lifestyle strategies like exercising regularly, quit smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and washing your hands. However, reducing stress and getting enough sleep is imperative for our immune systems. According to the Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that sleep deprivation triggers an immune response similar to actual physical stress.
"80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut."
Similarly, emotional stress increases cortisol levels, which over the long-term impacts blood pressure, the digestive system, and can lead to chronic inflammation. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress may also lead to cardiovascular problems. Getting on a proper sleep schedule and finding healthy outlets for stress such as breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and surrounding yourself with healthy, strong relationships can positively impact your immune health.
Healthy diet changes
Around 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut. The bacteria in your digestive tract, known as microflora, protects us from pathogens by producing antibacterial substances as well as creating barrier from outside invaders. Gut bacteria also communicates with the immune system by regulating inflammation and activating immune cells to do their job.
Our dietary choices directly impacts our microflora and how they function. According to Harvard Health, research suggests nutritional deficiencies are directly tied to contracting harmful illnesses. Following some GAPS-Friendly principles may boost your overall immune system by supporting the gut lining and rebalancing your gut bacteria, while also providing essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Dr. Campbell-McBride created the GAPS Diet to strengthen and heal the gut lining, rebalance the immune system, and restore the gut's bacterial ecosystem. It restricts the consumption of highly processed carbs, commercial dairy products, and grains, and replaces them with nutrient dense and easily digestible foods; your body will thank you for the change. Consuming probiotic-rich foods and probiotics will supply your GI tract with beneficial bacteria. Studies support using probiotics therapeutically for respiratory infections and the common cold, as well.
A recent Swedish study found that people who consumed a particular probiotic supplement over the course of a 80-day period, took 33 percent fewer sick days than those who did not, according to Prevention. Consuming healthy animal fats and cholesterol-rich foods have also been shown to protect the body against infections and support the overall immune system. In addition, adding some high-nutrient superfoods/supplements such as seaweed, elderberry, acerola cherry, vitamin D, and fish oils like cod liver oil may also support immune health.
For additional information about the GAPS Diet and how to get started, you can consult with a Certified GAPS Practitioner and visit our website today!