Intuitive Wellness for Immune Health
Your immune system is your first line of defence. Not only an armoury against infection but also provides protection from environmental stressors as well as serious conditions such as cancer and inflammatory disease. It's involved in growth, healing and recovery, guiding healthy pregnancy, determining how well we age and even our mental health. Although it is working hard for us every day, we often don’t think about our immune health until we fall unwell for example with a seasonal winter bug.
There are a plethora of things that can influence our immunity, some we can control and some we can't. For example the genetics of our immune system are as unique to you as your fingerprint. How we are born, our gender, age and where we live are also non-modifiable contributors to our immune health.
Eating a nourishing diet pattern, prioritising sleep quality, managing stress levels, supporting gut health and moving our bodies in ways that are aligned to our needs are all dials we need to pay attention to in support of our immune health. Nailing these foundations are key but there is no doubt that our requirements for nutrients and nourishment will vary depending on life stage or the various challenges life throws at us. Whether you are approaching menopause, always picking up colds, struggling with gut health, have an overwhelming schedule, training for a marathon or just have a specific health goal, we are all so different with different needs that change.
As the most prominent communication and information-sharing media, social media platforms have unfortunately become a go-to for health information. Viral videos and content creators with huge audiences hold great influence. Although not always bad, basing your wellness rituals on someone else’s practice or the latest viral trend can often be discouraging or unrealistic and, importantly, override our natural intuition.
Intuition is defined as the ability to understand through instinctive feelings without conscious reasoning. You might have heard it described as a as a “gut feeling.” It is actually the result of your brain filtering all the various information from your senses such as sight, sound, touch, taste, smell as well as your interoceptive sense. Interoception is often called the ‘hidden’ sensory system. It may be less well known than the ‘outward facing’ senses such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, but it has enormous consequences for your wellbeing. It is your brain’s perception of your internal body state, transmitted from receptors on all your internal organs. We so often ignore these nuanced signals and information from your body that we often ignore or misinterpret. Only by listening to our body, can we learn to take better care of our needs.
This is where intuitive wellness comes in. Instead of overriding our own innate intelligence to follow the latest wellness trends or supplements, shift your focus to how you feel, intuitively listening and responding to our changing needs. By tapping into your innate body wisdom, you can start to make the right choices regarding your health. Freeing yourself from restrictive eating patterns or chaotic supplement stacks to instead focus on foods or supplements to gently move the dial and guide you back towards your heathy setpoint. Allowing our intuition to guide contribute to your health and well-being benefits us in many ways, from potentially dramatically saving your life to guiding you to a more balanced lifestyle. Using your body’s inner wisdom to cultivate awareness and listening to your body’s inner voice.
Intuitively we can start to listen to our body, choosing minimally processed foods that are aligned with the seasons. Prioritise sleep and pay attention to your body’s signals for rest and recovery. Develop a tool-box of stress management techniques such as meditation or breathwork. Move intuitively, engaging in regular physical activity, but listen to your body and avoid over-exercising. Support your environment, taking steps to reduce your exposure to toxins, pollutants, and other environmental factors that can affect immune health.
Once we have built these foundations, we can then intuitively enhance a healthy diet and lifestyle with specific high quality nutrients curated to care for different challenges to your immune system. For example:
Avoid vitamin D deficiency over winter when the sun is inadequate for us to manufacture enough. From October to April consider supplementing with 1000 to 2000 International Units (IUs) daily.
A simple but effective way to support optimal immune function is by getting serious about taking omega 3’s consistently. These fatty acids help to support strenghten our immune cell membranes, helping them engulf germs and tempering inflammation. Aim for two to three servings of low-mercury oily fish—like sardines or salmon—per week and consider a marine or algae supplement if you’re unable to meet dietary goals.
Iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the world, but one that is often overlooked. Try increasing iron rich-foods in your diet such as meat, beans and nuts and aim to consume with vitamin C to improve your iron levels.
Zinc and vitamin C are a classic immune nourishing duo. Perennial supplementation with these nutrients won’t make us invincible to germs but taking them 24 hours of first noticing the signs of a cold could shorten the duration of the illness. Combine vitamin C with citrus bioflavanoids from fruits like orange, lemon and grapefruit to enhance it’s action.
Menopause, ageing, stress, environmental challenges and intense exercise can all take their toll on our health and are times to pay attention to collagen—the most abundant protein in the body—which makes up the structure of your body’s barriers including skin, nails, gut barrier and respiratory tract. These body barriers come under the umbrella of our immune system as they are the first line of defence against infections and environmental toxins. Supplementing collagen supports the integrity of these body barriers fortifying them against infections.
In summary, your immune system works hard to keep you healthy all year round but every now and then it might need a little more personalised support from an intuitive perspective.
If you haven't read our previous blog yet, catch up now for an 'Introduction to Intuitive Wellbeing'.