By: Hannah De Gruchy | April 2020
When we think of looking after our health, we might instantly think of how we can best look after our hearts. We might think of eating well and exercising to keep our weight to a healthy level or of eating plenty of oily fish and walnuts for brain healthy omega 3 fatty acids. We might even think of ways to look after our mental health such as avoiding stress where possible and practicing mindfulness. But when do we actively think of looking after our immune health?
Our immune system is a complex system of cells, molecules, tissues and organs that run through the entire body, seeking and destroying invading pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses, or anything else that the body recognises as a foreign object. This complex system comprises of two ‘branches’ – the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system is responsible for defending us against microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses that try to infect us, such as the common cold, flu viruses and vomiting bugs. The adaptive immune system is the memory side of our immunity, learning to recognise the pathogenic bugs we’ve been in contact with, so that it can produce antibodies against them next time they come our way.
Illness, immunosuppressive drugs, being immunocompromised or having an autoimmune disorder can all mean that our immune system is below par. But eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, drinking excessively and living a sedentary lifestyle can all cause our natural immune defences to weaken. This can mean that we’re more susceptible to illness, infection and disease, which can prove to be annoying at best, or life-threatening at worst. It’s crucial that we look after our immune system, especially right now, with winter coming. Here’s our tips for supporting a healthy immune system…