Three Simple Tools to Support the Immune System

Woman sitting in a chair outside

The immune system is comprised of many interconnected biological structures and processes that help to protect the body against infection. Below are three simple factors to incorporate into your lifestyle to help improve the functioning of your immune system.

1. Hydrate

Drinking enough clean water to fulfill your minimum daily requirements is imperative for proper immune system functioning. The daily requirement is equal to half your bodyweight in ounces. For example, someone who weighs 160lbs would need to drink 80 ounces of water, or 10 cups. It is important to not guzzle the water down in one sitting, but to frequently sip throughout the day well before bedtime.

Examples of the Benefits of Hydration:

  • Helps to keep our mouth, nose, eyes and sinuses moist. The protection of these areas is essential for oral and respiratory health.
    • The mouth and saliva are the first step of the digestive process.
    • As part of the upper respiratory system, the nose and sinus filter and moisten air as it travels down the airway.
    • Symptoms of allergies and asthma can worsen with dehydration.
  • Lubricates the joints: Joint cartilage and disks between the vertebrae are made up of approximately 80% water and help with shock absorption, which can prevent pain.
  • Removes waste from the body through sweat, urine and feces.
  • Blood is made up of more than 90% water and carries oxygen – which is picked up in the lungs – to the rest of the body. If enough water is not present, the blood can thicken and result in the increase of blood pressure.
  • Protects the brain and spinal cord: Dehydration in these areas can affect both their structure and the functioning, resulting in issues with thinking and reasoning.

2. Sleep

Getting adequate sleep promotes healing through hormonal and immune responses, and is vital for proper immune system functioning. Ask any of our experts about alignment, pillows, and manual and alternative treatments to help improve your sleep.

Tips for Improving Your Sleep

  • Make small changes where you can.
  • Too much blue/junk light can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythm.
    • If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), try to get 30 minutes outside or with a blue-light lamp early in the morning to tell your body to wake up.
    • Dim the lights at night, and shut off screens, such as phones, computers and TVs 1-2 hours before bedtime.
    • Blue-light blocking glasses help to facilitate an ideal environment for melatonin production.
  • Make sure your room is DARK, even an alarm clock light can affect your sleep quality.
  • If you snore, ask your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. Apnea is a temporary cessation of breathing and it can occur during sleep.
    • Alcohol consumption can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.
      • The muscular relaxation that occurs with alcohol consumption also affects the muscles of the throat, thus increasing the risk of snoring and apnea.
      • While alcohol consumption may help you to fall asleep, it blocks restorative and rejuvenating REM sleep.
      • It is a diuretic so instead of sleeping, you may be up urinating.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can contribute to the pain in your lower back, your neck and your jaw.

3. Manage Stress

Excessive and chronic stress can persuade the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to stay on like a light switch. This stress response (fight or flight response), can suppress the immune system.

Tips to Manage Stress

  • Controlled breathing: You can use your breathing to reduce SNS activation and to balance the autonomic system, lower cortisol, blood pressure, and improve blood and lymph flow.
    • Controlled rhythmic breathing helps to increase the prevalence of Natural Killer cells (cells part of the immune system that help to fight infection).
    • Take time out in your day to stop and just breathe.
  • Use a journal to get busy thoughts and triggers out onto paper.
  • Spend some time focusing on gratitude and love for the people, animals, nature, and experiences you come across daily.
  • Something as simple as going for a walk in a forest aka forest bathing, can be incorporated.
    • Interacting with nature has shown to increase the production of Natural Killer cells, reduce blood pressure and pulse, have mood boosting effects, and reduce inflammation through terpenes in the air.
    • We are constantly bombarded by invasive electromotive forces (EMF) from wireless devices, cell phone towers, Wi-Fi, cars and more. You can reset your own natural electromagnetic field by physically touching the earth and nature.
    • Take a break from it all. If you cannot get out of the city, head to one of Toronto’s forest saturated parks or find a quite spot on the shores of Lake Ontario while maintaining social distance.
  • Massage therapy not only feels amazing for your muscles and fascia, but has shown to increase the number of lymphocytes and to lower cytokines which play a role in inflammation after only 45 minutes. It also reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and vasopressin which plays a role in aggressive behaviour. Incorporate a regular monthly massage as maintenance for your muscles, fascia, mind and immune system.
  • Exercise, Yoga, Pilates, ELDOATM and meditation are all excellent outlets, just ask our expert team!
  • Aim to cultivate a lifestyle that incorporates stress management naturally.

Written by Ashly Metcalf, Registered Massage Therapist, Ace Sports Clinic