Hack your System
Updated: Sep 4
In last weeks blog, I stated that whether to wear a mask or not is not the question we should ask, so let’s move on to what we should ask. We all know we have an immune system that fights off bugs, but who knows how it actually works, and how to make it stronger? Certainly not the people in the 300m long queue that formed outside MacDonalds in Paris on the first day it opened after lockdown. It would have been funny if it weren’t so sad - here we spent months isolating to protect ourselves from a virus, only to go and eat the some of the lowest vibrational food available on the planet. How is that connected?
Luckily for you, I happen to find anatomy physiology and kinesiology and their impact on our mental and emotional health fascinating, so if you are curious, here goes:
We actually have 2 different immune systems. The first one (innate) we are born with and its abilities are inherited. This is our rapid response system: patrolling the body for invaders, recognising them, and jumping into action. The so-called phagocytes, cells of the innate immune system, surround and engulf the invader and kill it.
The acquired immune system produces antibodies to protect the body from a specific invader, and these are developed by cells after the body has been exposed to it. The acquired immune system is not immediate, because it can take a few days for the antibodies to develop, but after the first exposure, your system will recognise and defend against the invader every time it recognises it.
Your immune system is made up of various bits in your body: adenoids and tonsils (who do have a use after all) the bone marrow, lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels (a sophisticated network of channels throughout the body that carries lymphocytes to the bloodstream and lymphoid organs) spleen, Peyer's patches (that’s lymph tissue in the small intestine) and the Thymus (two lobes that connect in front of the windpipe behind your breastbone). The lymph is the fluid that flows throughout your network of channels and mops up everything that looks not right, from viruses and bacteria to broken cells.
Your acquired immune system changes throughout your life, and it’s up to you to hack the system - the better it works, the better your ability to stay healthy.
Here are the 6 non-negotiable life hacks to strengthen your immune system:
Diet: Yes, it is time to stop blaming Lockdown for ones decision to eat junk food and come out 2 dress sizes larger. More vegetables, less meat, less bread and processed chocolate, you know the drill. The internet has a myriad of recipes available for all abilities and purse sizes — it’s all there for the taking.
Above all, reduce your sugar intake (I know it’s hard. Go slowly, one spoonful at a time). Saying no to the 2nd glass of wine during the week is a great start.
Supplement your diet — try dōTERRA’s excellent Lifelong Vitality for all-round wellness support.
Movement: Sofas are not doing your immune system any favours. Unlike our blood circulation, it doesn’t have its own pump and relies on the body moving to push the broken cells, viruses and bacteria towards the lymph nodes, into the liver and out through the digestive tract.
Yoga it — if you cannot join an actual class, check out my course on Teachable: “Stretch, Release, Revive” for time-poor people who really need yoga.
Joining a Gym if you hate gyms won’t work. Plus, I once realised that, after having joined a gym and only going twice in the entire year, I had effectively paid £280 per class.
Find something you love. Go for long walks, find a tap class, whatever rocks your boat.
Breathwork: Known as pranayama, breath work regulates the flow of' prana', or life force, and nothing resets and strengthens your system faster than a couple of minutes of guided breathing. Regular practice stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, because our breathing patterns are closely linked to our emotional states. We breath in differently when we are angry, excited, nervous or tired. Pranayama actively alters our physical and emotional state, leaving us calmer and more energised.
Reduce toxic load: Ban chemicals in your home and start to use natural alternatives for cleaning, laundry, skin and hair care. It stops your body having to constantly fight off toxins before it can concentrate on functioning in balance. Hand sanitisers, for example, are part of the problem: frequent use of alcohol-based gels washes away the skins natural sebum and makes it more permeable and sensitive to viruses, and artificial fragrances come with a whole load of additional problems to the body. Instead, wash your hands frequently with a natural soap - 100% more effective.
Aromatherapy: Yes, essential oils are your best friends when it gets to improving immune health. Distilled from the essence of plants, they are composed of chemical constituents that happen to smell lovely — make use of their healing properties to support your body and mind. dōTERRA produces the purest and effective essential oils and has curated kits for oil novices to support their health naturally.
Rest and Meditation: Before you tell me that meditation is not your thing (trust me, they all say that), think about this: until the event of 24 hour TV and the smartphone, all of us got rest periods for our brains. Be it long train or car journeys, commuting daily, sitting in the sunshine or just pottering around the home. You may have started with a book, but you often got to musing and daydreaming, which naturally re-set your brain to better mental health. Now that luxury is a thing of the past. Our brains are constantly stimulated with fast-changing pictures, and if you don’t believe me, just look around you next time you are on public transport. The effects on our mental health are devastating, and poor mental health results in high anxiety levels, which changes your heart health, digestive system and more.
According to the World Economic Forum, over 60% of all adults worldwide have sleep problems. Meditation and mindfulness are a surefire way to improve your sleep patterns, reduce anxiety and get better focus in your life. Try it with an app — there are very good options available, most of them have a free version too.
In the heart of the pandemic, it is time that we stop the search for external protection. We have all the tools we need, and creating a strong immune system will make us stronger, happier, sleep better and ultimately healthier - and that can only be a good thing.
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