1. Hibernate! No, not really, but do make sure you get enough sleep! Lack of sleep SLAMS your immune system. Make the most of darker nights to cosy up in bed a little bit earlier and catch up on precious ZZZZs. Your immune system will thank you, and you’ll have much better energy too.
2. Kai time: Be like a squirrel - nuts, seeds and berries, nuts, seeds and berries! Eating well for optimal immunity means getting enough quality protein to build antibodies and aid tissue repair. It also means making the most of fresh fruits and veg, especially berries for their awesome antioxidant potential. Cutting down on sugar, fried foods, additives, and white flour will help too.
3. Chill: Make the most of the beauty of autumn leaves for relaxing walks and downtime. There is a stillness in autumn as we prepare for the winter months and start to turn inwards- indoors, introspection. Enjoy free moments for reflection to work out how to create more space, reduce stress and bring calmness into your life. Autumn is time for crafts and cosiness, scarves and walks. Keeping life simple helps reduce stress, which is the arch enemy of good immunity.
4. Prevention is Better than Cure: Using medicinal herbal tonics on a daily basis helps us to strengthen our immunity and mean we are better prepared for any bugs that may stray our way. Good quality New Zealand-grown organic Echinacea root is one of our very best preventative medicines. It helps increase many arms of our immune system by enhancing the production and activity of immune cells and balancing the inflammatory response.
5. Choose your best Botanical Allies! Have high potency herbal medicines on hand for anything that may eventuate. Getting on top of infections early by targeting specific tissues, enhancing the immune response, and providing directly targeted antibacterial and antiviral activity can be the difference between nailing an infection and being in bed for a week!
6. Check out your nutrient balance: we can eat a fabulous diet and still be out of balance with specific immune nutrients for all sorts of reasons (periods of growth, not enough sunlight, too much coffee, excessive stress, etc). And let’s face it, most of us could do better on the food choices front! Some common nutrients to support immunity are Vitamins C, A and D, and the minerals zinc, iron and selenium. If you are low in any of these you may need to top up. Talk to a naturopath or health practitioner about how to best assess your nutrient needs and the best ways for you to redress the balance.
7. Laughter is the Best Medicine: Well, it’s definitely the most fun medicine! And has been shown to enhance immunity in two main ways. The first is because it stimulates the lymphatic system - laughing pumps your diaphragm and helps move the lymphatics, which helps keep your immune system healthy. The second is through direct immune cell activation, increasing numbers of B and T cells, and also Natural Killer Cells. What have you got to lose? Watch some good comedy, tell some silly jokes, play in piles of leaves, hang out with kids, whatever tickles your fancy. It turns out the funny bone is a central component of the immune system!
About the Author
Asti Renaut (BHSc. Comp Med, BA, Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip Herb Med, MNZAMH)
Asti Renaut is a degree-qualified medical herbalist and naturopath with over ten years clinical experience. Asti practices in Christchurch, New Zealand, treating a wide range of health issues. She especially enjoys working with infants and children, and finally has one of her own to practice on! One of the cornerstones of Asti's practice and philosophy is the importance of education and sharing information. She believes that empowering clients to understand their own bodies and health, and giving practical tips and tools to use from the garden and kitchen are just as important for wellness as qualified professional care.