A holistic view of health recognizes that our immune systems are affected by our emotions. This piece of research shows that people with a more positive mind-set (calm, optimistic, having a life purpose) are less likely to contract a cold or flu virus. It also showed that they suffer less from the symptoms if they do.
Supporting our mental, emotional and spiritual health is just as important as supporting our physical health. In yoga we can do this by relaxing, bringing our attention away from the circling thoughts of the mind and to the calm observation of body and the breath. In this way we have more control over what we choose to think. We can choose to think more helpful positive thoughts rather than those that drain us of our vitality and positivity. Yoga also teaches us to step back and think before we take actions. I often ask myself will this problem still bother me in a months time, does it really matter, quite often the best thing is to just let go.
Healthy Lifestyle Boost
One thing that is also under our control is the food, drink and substances that we choose to ingest. As we all know, this can have a big effect on our health. Instead of going into panic or negative thinking (which can increase stress and therefore our tendency to eat unhealthily, smoke and drink more) we can choose to live a really healthy life. Become more mindful of our food choices, and how our diet affects our energy and health. I am sure we can all relate to that feeling of over eating or eating badly (Lots of sugar, processed foods) and how we feel after, I know I find I often would feel tired after, or get a headache. In India much time is taken into looking after their temples, many hours cleaning, chanting positive mantras, taking time to place fresh flowers, and it feels so nice to spend time in these temples, so peaceful, so clean, such good energy. Why not see our bodies as a temple, put good energy and food into it and feel the benefits.
During this time of Covid we have all probably given more thought to boosting our immune system, but what do we understand about our immune system, here are some basic facts.
Your immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that band together to defend your body against foreign invaders, like germs, viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system protects you by creating a barrier that stops those invaders from entering your body. If one happens to slip by, it starts to produce white blood cells and other chemicals that attack and destroy these foreign substances. If your immune system can’t get rid of the invader before it starts to reproduce, it simply revs up even more to destroy the invaders as they multiply.
In addition to blood cells and chemicals that physically attack germs, your skin, lungs, digestive tract, saliva and tears are also all involved in the immune response. That’s why washing you hands and not touching your face are so important too.
Is it really possible to BOOST your immunity?
Simply put, there is no quick fix when it comes to suddenly boosting your immunity and there is no supplement nor food that will suddenly strengthen it. The single best way to keep yourself, and your immune system, healthy is to choose a healthy lifestyle. What this does is offers support to your immune system and allows it to get on with its job of keeping invaders out.
What about loading up on Vitamin C or zinc?
Nutritional compounds like vitamin C, antioxidants and zinc do work with your immune system and help it function more effectively, but the truth is that if you are already eating a balanced diet, the evidence and research do not promote the need to take more. So the simple answer here is: eat well. Reduce your intake of highly processed and sugary foods, and increase your intake of fresh, healthy ones.
What other healthy lifestyle habits support a healthy immune system?
Sleep is good for everything – but it’s essential when it comes to immunity, and there are two reasons for that. First, stress hormones dip while you’re asleep – that’s important because these hormones dampen your immune response. Second, a good night’s sleep boosts the effectiveness of specialised immune cells, called T-cells. T-cells are in charge of recognizing foreign invaders and activating the proteins that they attach to, and kills them. It works so well in fact that studies have found that people who sleep for less than 7 hours a night are around 3 times more likely to catch a cold than those sleeping for 8 hours or more.
Is keeping stress in check also important?
Stress decreases the number of white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower this level, the more at risk you are for infection. And this is where exercise comes in! Exercise delivers a double whammy to your immune system. It slows the release of stress hormones, while at the same time improving natural immune defence activity.
Anything that gets your heart pumping helps. Your immune system responds almost immediately to exercise. As well as your yoga practice find something you enjoy, maybe a walk in nature, run, cycle a swim. Do what makes you feel good (I know I say that one a lot)
What could you do today to help support your immune system?
Focusing on a healthy diet, sleeping well and moving more are the 3 cornerstones to a healthy immune system. But a positive mindset is equally as important. Research shows that positive thoughts reduce stress and inflammation and increase resilience to infection, while negative emotions can make you more susceptible to the common cold and flu. So its important that we try to keep that in mind as we face the many unknowns of the next few months
You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.
Love & Namaste