4 factors (other than a cold and dreary winter) that impact your immune system

If you think the colder months are the only enemy to immune health, it’s time to think again.

Your immune system is like your invisible coat of armour.

When it’s in tip-top condition, you don’t even notice it working around the clock to protect you from illness and infection.

But when there’s something wrong with this in-built defence system, your body can be overwhelmed by bacteria, viruses and even toxins. And then, you get sick.

We know the last thing you need is time in bed, so here’s just a few of the things that can impact your immune health (and some clues on what to do about them)!

1. Too little physical activity

We know, you hear the exercise message all the time. But there’s good reason!

Science shows that regular physical activity – think walking, biking, yoga or swimming – increases blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Research has found that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems.

2. Not enough fruit and veggies

A diet high in nutrients from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and low in processed foods helps keep your immune system at its best.

Vitamin C (found in citrus fruits and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and capsicum) is a powerful antioxidant that can help strengthen your body’s natural defences.

Zinc also helps the immune system fend off bacteria and viruses, with meat, poultry, seafood and legumes a rich source of this mineral.

3. Lack of sleep

It might be easier said than done (we know – busy lives, Netflix, etc) but prioritising sleep is vital to fight off infections.

Don’t believe us? One US study of 164 healthy adults found those who slept fewer than six hours a night were more likely to catch a cold than those who didn’t.

And in 2019, German researchers discovered that sound sleep improves the immune cells known as T cells. Aim for around eight hours a night and no screens before bed.

4. Too much stress

Relieving stress and anxiety is another key to immune health.

Long-term stress can lead to inflammation and imbalances in immune cell function.

Stress can also decrease your body’s lymphocytes – the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are from viruses.

Try keeping your stress levels under control through meditation, yoga or just being out in nature (sunlight is a proven feel-good factor).

And finally…

As well as looking at lifestyle factors, there are a few nutritional and herbal weapons to have in your immune-boosting arsenal.

Antioxidants like zinc, which is found in foods such as fish, wholegrains and nuts, and vitamin C both support healthy immune system function.

And andrographis – a bitter herb – is used to reduce and relieve symptoms of common colds and flu, and relieve symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections.

Hand in hand with exercise, fruit and veg intake, good-quality zzzs and less stress, they can help keep your immune function in peak shape this winter.

*Written by Liz McGrath. This post is brought to you by BioCeuticals ArmaForce. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist talk to your health practitioner.  Andrographis may cause allergic reactions in some people. If you have a severe reaction, stop use and seek immediate medical attention.