Immunity is crucial when it comes to staying healthy, and prevention is always better than cure when it comes to defending the body against illness. The immune system can be put under extreme and increased pressure in Winter, with lots of bugs about; colder, wetter weather and miserable dark nights. Combine that with people staying indoors with the heating full on, and those bugs and viruses have a perfect breeding ground – and an easy way to spread quickly. The best way to stay healthy is by practising good hygiene habits and reinforcing the natural protection mechanism of the body – the immune system. A healthy diet which should include lots of fresh food, especially wholegrains, fruit and vegetables is always advisable, and do avoid processed foods as much as possible.
What is the Immune System?
It’s easy to think of the immune system as some sort of force field, a magical barrier against bugs, ailments and worse. In fact, it’s a little more complicated – as the name suggests, it’s a system; a whole set of processes including several organs, cells, tissues, fluids and proteins. A compromised immune system can leave you vulnerable to infection and slow recovery from often innocuous nasties.
How Can I Optimise My Immune System?
- Cut down on sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Try to minimise alcohol intake and always drink plenty of water.
- Avoid stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke – or if you do, try to stop or at least cut down.
- Consider probiotics.
- Getting out and about walking in the countryside is ideal. It’s important to find something you enjoy doing – that way, you’re more likely to keep it up.
- Laugh and spend time with family, partner or good friends.
- Practice self-care – take time out, relax, have a massage…
- Always aim for a healthy life style and include some complementary therapies, such as reflexology. Reflexology is thought to help boost the immune system.
What Will Weaken My Immune System?
A weakened or compromised immune system can make your body more susceptible to viruses, bugs, pathogens, bacteria and even parasites. Watch out for the following, which can all adversely affect your immune system:
- Stress: Feeling over-stressed or anxious over a prolonged period has been shown to increase the level of the hormone cortisol in the body. Excess cortisol can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, low mood and even osteoporosis.
- Poor Sleep: The body needs sleep for energy and recovery. Lack of sleep can lead to a reduction in the number of white blood cells which are key to immunity. Poor sleepers tend to be more susceptible to illness and infection, as well as depression and irritability.
- Inactive Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle inhibits the blood flow through the body, which may reduce the flow of infection-busting antibodies.
- Poor Diet: Processed and junk food, fizzy drinks, refined sugar, and additives can all have an impact on the bacteria-fighting ability of white blood cells, which can compromise the immune system.
- Obesity: Often a direct result of poor diet and the sedentary lifestyle, obesity takes a heavy toll on the immune system. It affects the production of white blood cells, reduces production of anti-bodies and increases inflammation. It’s also a major contributor to some cancers.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a system of massage to the feet that stimulates specific ‘reflex points’ on the feet. Those reflex points correspond to an organ or part of the body, and the intense massage treatment to those points encourages elimination of blockages and energetic congestion in the correlating area of the body. It follows the guiding principle in Chinese medicine – that there is a network of energy, or ‘Chi’ that distributes energy around the body.
The first evidence of reflexology dates back to the ancient civilisations of Egypt, India and China – as early as 2,500BC. Carvings and paintings seem to illustrate that the ancient Egyptians had already begun to understand the body as an integrated system, with the feet holding a ‘microscopic map of the body’. Reflexology was introduced to the West just last century, and since then, has become one of the most popular holistic treatments, with some NHS trusts recommending its use.
How Can Reflexology Help?
Reflexology can help bolster the immune system in several ways. Most simply, it can aid relaxation, so vital to a healthy immunity. Reflexology has also been shown to improve sleep, which as we know is essential to rejuvenation and recovery – as well as production of infection-fighting white blood cells. The very act of massaging the lower legs is beneficial to blood circulation, and elimination of lactic acid.
Reflexology has been shown to be very beneficial in many of the factors which can adversely affect immunity. A skilled and experienced reflexologist may also be able to identify areas of concern and potential health issues – making early diagnosis and timely treatment more likely.
Stay Healthy this Winter – and Beyond
Follow this advice and take good care of yourself – and allow professionals, experts and complementary therapists to take good care of you too. My aim as a therapist – whether that’s in reflexology or the other therapies for natural health I offer: Bowen Technique, Kinesiology, Aromatherapy, Natural Face Lift Massage and Reiki, or even a tailored combination of treatments – is to work with you, my client, to find the best treatment for you. I’ll also help give you the tools to look after your own wellbeing as best you can, too. Here’s to a happy and healthy Winter – and beyond.
My name is Julie Elder and I am a complementary therapist/yoga teacher at Totally Holistic Health. I am passionate about helping your body stay healthy in a natural and holistic way. To find out more information on how I can help you please feel free to check out my website at www.totallyholistichealth.co.uk. Follow my blog with Bloglovin