My Life Moves
for your immune system
You can think of your immune system as a powerful army whose job is to protect you. It is made of soldiers (T cells and white cells), defence stations (the spleen, thymus gland, lymphs etc) and mechanisms of attack (recognition and memory of pathogens and actions against them). This complex network is constantly taking care of your health, so it is important to keep it in good working order. Here are some ways to maintain your body and mind and re-charge your immune system.
Ok, we keep on saying it, but have you done anything about it yet?
Stress can be good for you, but not at a sustained intensity that interferes with your sleep and your health. If you find yourself angry, resentful and exhausted, here’s a simple yet powerful exercise to try. Based on Matthieu Ricard‘s “The Art of Meditation,” it can help you take your first step toward a lighter life:
Spend 15 minutes today sitting in a quiet room, meditating. Focus on one thing you could do to lower your stress levels. Ask yourself:
- what is the main source of my stress?
- is there anything I can do about it?
Choose one action that you can take to make things better, one single step. Recognise deep in your heart that you can do it.
Don’t wait until tomorrow. Start today. Take action, and stay faithful to your commitment. Remember, you are not asking yourself to change your whole life, but just to change one small element in it! Then read point number 4 in this article…
2. Probiotics from natural sources.
It is now known that certain bacteria in the gut influence the development of aspects of the immune system, such as correcting deficiencies and increasing the numbers of some T cells. Precisely how the bacteria interact with the immune system components isn’t known. As more and more intriguing evidence comes in to support the idea that intestinal bacteria bolster the immune system, it’s tempting to think that more good bacteria would be better. At least, this is what marketers of mass-produced probiotic products would want you to believe. So far, there is no evidence that commercial probiotic products make any real difference to your health.
If you’d still like to support your intestinal flora, you’re better off eating good quality yoghurt which you can buy -avoid the commercial brands and opt for locally produced farmer’s products–or you can make it yourself. Here is an easy recipe based on the Super Simple Yoghurt by The Green Kitchen which we love:
-Gently heat 1 litre of fresh organic whole milk to 82C
-Allow it to cool to 43C
-Stir in the yoghurt and place the mixture into a large glass container
-Cover the container with a kitchen towel an put it in a warm place (a pre-heated oven that has been turned off), overnight.
-In the morning it should have grown and thickened, transfer it to smaller glass jars and refrigerate.
-Keeps from 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
3. Fresh air.
My grandmother, who lived with us for many years, always made us go out a coger el aire–to “catch the air.” It was understood that if you didn’t go outside every day, you’d get sick. She wasn’t only emphasizing regular exercise–which definitely helps–but also being outdoors, preferably in nature.
Going for a fast-paced walk or run on the running machine of your local gym, although beneficial in some ways, doesn’t have the same effect as a stroll in the park. If you can combine your outdoor experience with the company of a good friend you’ll be “saving two birds” in one walk, as an active social life also boosts your immune system.
4. Make stress your friend.
If stress in your life is unavoidable, turn the tables around.
The latest research shows that stress might be bad for your health only when you resent what you do. If, on the other hand, you are able to enjoy your stress–and even thrive on it–your health will be less affected. We really loved Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk on this subject.
To help you identify how you feel about your stress, ask yourself some questions. Every morning this week–including on the weekend–take a moment just before jumping out of bed. Right then, ask yourself: how do you feel about the day ahead?
- I am excited, even looking forward to it.
- I am dreading it, I wish I could stay in bed or disappear!
- I feel indifferent, you never know how the day might develop.
If you find yourself leaning toward the second option more than four days per week, you might want to consider making real changes in your life before your immunity and health are seriously affected!
Sleep accounts for approximately one third of our lives, and a growing number of physicians believe that it should receive more attention from the medical community.
Researchers have linked sleep-related illnesses to hypertension, stroke, congestive heart failure, depression and overall decreased quality of life. During the stages of deep sleep, large spurts of growth hormone are secreted, thought to restore the body from the wear and tear of our daily activities. At a non-physical level, deep sleep and the dreaming stage are also believed to help develop our social skills, wish fulfilment and consolidation of memories, providing necessary stimulation to the entire nervous system.
Tips for improving your sleep:
- Commit to a regular bedtime and wake up schedule
- Do not nap if you regularly have insomnia
- Make your bedroom a “quiet” space at night, with no TV, computer or phone
- Establish relaxing before-bed routines such as taking a bath, a glass of warm milk, or do some light reading
- Develop relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. (internal link to Yoga Nidra)
- Avoid troubling news right before bed, including violent movies
- Avoid stimulants such as alcohol or coffee 8 hours before bedtime
- Exercise regularly–but avoid vigorous exercise after 6pm