The Wellness Edge

Supercharge Your Immunity

Strengthen your immune system through our comprehensive science-backed guide.

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Supercharge Your Immunity

The seasons are shifting again and here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are entering the colder months. Time to supercharge your immunity!

This journal edition, we’ve collated the latest research, bringing together low risk, anecdotal and experiential evidence into the most concise immunity advice.

For a more in depth look into your immunity, read on for our best tips for optimising your immunity no matter which season you are in.

How does our immune system work?

In a nutshell, our immune system works to protect our bodies from harmful invaders, otherwise known as antigens. When an antigen enters the body it triggers an immune response, activating antibodies who then attach themselves to invaders in order to fight them. If the antibodies are effective, this is the internal process of maintaining good health. When the immune system isn’t strong, however, it is harder for our immune molecules to look after us. Our defences are down and we are likely to get sick.

We will explore two key aspects of our immune system - the innate and the adaptive - as well as unpacking ways to best to preserve our physical bodies and their systems of wellbeing. As we move through the everyday rhythms of our lives we are constantly exposed to many different types of bacteria. The more prepared we are for their presence the better.

The Innate Immune System

Our first line of defence, the innate branch of our immune system has been wired into us since birth. It acts with immediacy, swelling our ankle straight after we roll it or as a coughing reflex, signalling to our body that it needs help! Without this acute inflammation or instant reflex to breathe the body wouldn’t respond, emphasising the significant role the innate immune system has in keeping us well. Our skin is part of our innate system, as well as mucous and mucous membranes and our immune cells.

The Adaptive Immune System

The adaptive system is our ‘learning’ immune system, it is what we acquire over our lifespan when we come into contact with different germs and viruses. It is impacted by our exposure to these antigens, learning from the experience and then creating antibodies as a reaction. If we are then exposed to that same invader again, our bodies already have the blueprint of what to do in order to work against it with precision.

  • NOTE: Chronic Inflammation and Immunity: It is important to take note of the link between inflammation and immunity. Inflammation is a sign that the immune system is doing what it needs to do, that a response it happening. If inflammation becomes chronic, however, this can lead to disease and death. With prolonged inflammation comes stress for the body, and stress for the immune system. Heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers and obesity are all examples of diseases that are connected to chronic inflammation. When already under stress, the body’s immune response is less effective, meaning it is less able to protect us from day to day bacteria and viruses. Take Covid-19 as an example, over 80% of hospitalisations were in patients with comorbidities such as the chronic conditions listed above. Their immune systems were already compromised when they came in contact with the corona virus, making it much harder for their bodies to fight it off.

Squeezing a lemon for immunity boosting

Immune Recovery

When you do get sick, as we all do at some point, how can you support your recovery? Fortunately, all the things that boost your immune system also help in its ability to recover. Keep on doing them and you will kickstart the healing journey. Be gentle and kind to yourself too – you may feel a little fragile for sometime, so don’t push yourself in any way that could stress your body further. Remembering and prioritising rest for yourself is the number one rule.

Now that we understand the immune system, let’s explore our wellness pillars to understand how they can help to elevate our immunity. According to Dr Roger Seheult, a pulmonologist working in California, there are many “low hanging fruit” when it comes to supporting our general health. Diet, getting outside, and moving our bodies are all included in his list of simple things that have a huge impact. Aro Ha’s pillars coincide with much of what Dr Seheult highlights.

Remember, we don’t have to be perfect all the time, but perhaps there are some simple changes we can make to our daily routines that can empower our own wellness.

6 Pillars of Wellbeing Unpacked

1. Stay Lean

We know that our bodies are healthier when they are a little more on the lighter side. We can obviously go too far in either direction, but taking the time to really tune in with what is a healthy weight for you, is an essential aspect of being well. With extra weight comes excess inflammation, this can stress the immune system and its ability to respond effectively. We remind you to please take into account the mental and emotional factors that interweave alongside the physical, we are all different and will have different practices to establish in response to this pillar. Remember, the number on the scale has nothing to do with your good heart.

2. Stay Active

Moderate and regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies. This increases circulation, decreasing stress hormones. Establish an exercise practice to not only help prevent respiratory infections but also to improve cognitive and physical resilience. It is all about balance. Dr Mark Hyman, an American physician and award-winning medical author, states that the goal is not to overdo it. High intensity athletes often have weaker immune systems because their bodies are so inflamed from such high impact movement. Pick those low hanging fruit – get outside and go for a gentle to moderate walk or run. Moving the body everyday reduces inflammation and supports the smooth running of our bodily systems.

3. Breathe Well

Breathing is at the core of human health and bodily function. With a respiratory virus making the rounds, it makes sense to learn how to breath consciously. With better breathing comes better health, as we free up both the inhale and the exhale, having a huge impact on other systems in the body too. Hot and cold therapies are also connected to breathing. In the initial phases of many infections, the application of heat to the upper airways can support the immune systems first line of defence. The inhalation of steam containing essential oils with anti-viral, mucolytic and anxiolytic properties further helps to aid and strengthen the immune response.

Try this breathing practice with Fraser.

Meditative pose at Aro Ha

Eat Right

Focus on eating healthy whole foods that make you feel full for the longest period of time.

Include foods rich in nutrients! Eat the rainbow. Avoid processed foods, especially those which contain processed sugars. When you are feeling unwell include foods rich in polyphenols into your diet. Berries are full of antioxidants, greens, brassicas and cacao are anti-inflammatory and garlic, turmeric and honey are amazing anti-bacterial foods. Do as Hippocrates said and “let food be thy medicine!” Eating right also speaks to the taking of supplements. Vitamin D is something that most of us should be supplementing, especially in the colder months. Older people or those who stay inside a large amount of the time will most likely be vitamin D deficient. Black cumin seed, otherwise known as nigella seed, is another nutritional supplement that is recommended for general immune support. Quercetin, Zinc and NAC are also all recognised as beneficial for the immune system – all three of these are included in our Aro Ha Immunity Pack, along with Vit. D and other herbal formulas.

Relax Well

Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses, making them unable to function properly and increase the likelihood of getting sick. Identify your personal stress reduction strategies and practice them regularly. Perhaps you sink into a space of mindfulness with meditation, putting on your favourite playlist to unwind. Sink into whatever it is that makes you feel connected with all that is bigger than yourself – it can help to create space in the noisiness of the mind. Prioritise sleep. A well rested body is one that will be able to respond to disease well. Reduce screen time.

If you'd like our Supercharge Your Immunity guide with naturopathic tips, functional medicine doctor practices and recipes to boost your immunity this season, download it here.