As you may already have guessed, here at Tonic, we’re of the opinion that making sure your immune system can perform at its best should always be a priority. And given that we’re in the middle of cold and flu season and since COVID-19 unfortunately doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, you may have decided that 2021 is the year you’re going to take your immune health seriously. A great first step is obviously stocking up on some of our high-dose vitamin drinks, which come in a range of delicious flavours, such as high dose Elderberry & Blackcurrant or Lemon & Honey, or our soothing night-time drink, Cherry & Chamomile.
But for those of you who are really serious about immune health, we also put together a list of the 7 things your immune system wants you to quit this year.
Having a poor diet
While all the time spent indoors last year has meant some people suddenly have lots more time to cook meals, others may have found themselves feeling uninspired or too exhausted, worried, or bored to cook. Reaching for ‘unhealthy’ foods is often a lot easier than our bodies would like, and when there’s little else going on, boredom or comfort eating can easily become a habit!
Rather than cutting processed, sugary and/or fried foods out entirely, you may find it easier just to try increasing the number of nutritious foods you eat. Here we’re talking about foods that contain healthy fats, fibre, pre- and probiotics, wholegrains, etc. Over 70% of immune cells are found in the gut, so gut-friendly options, such as fermented foods, are a good place to start if you’re stuck for ideas! Or you can keep an eye on our blog, where we regularly post our favourite immune-friendly recipes!
Try to make sure you’re getting at least five portions of fruit and veg each day (veg is preferred as fruit often contains a lot of sugar). While it may taste good, sugar has been connected to suppressed immune function and a variety of other health issues. In particular, it’s been shown to block the absorption of our all-time favourite vitamin C! Now you know why we’re on about Tonic having no added sugar all the time!
Not getting enough sleep
One bad night’s sleep can reduce the number of ‘natural killer’ cells in the immune system by as much as 70%. Enough said.
We’d also like to add that if you’re struggling to sleep, you may find it helpful to meditate, try getting into a sleep routine, and/or drink our night-time immunity drink. We also previously put together a list of 7 steps to a good night’s sleep.
Not staying hydrated
A recent study of 30’000 Brits found that 3 in 5 people (so 60%) drink just one glass of water a day, which is far off the eight glasses minimum recommendation! Pure water (or a high-dose vitamin drink mixed with water) is the best way to go if you want to give your immune system what it needs to perform at its best: the immune system relies on your bloodstream (which is around 90% water) to transport fluids, nutrients, and communication signals to organs. Without proper hydration, this transportation system doesn’t work as well as it could.
Not getting enough sunlight
Vitamin D is widely recognised as one of the most important immune-supporting nutrients. It also prompts the absorption of calcium and regulates bone growth. Low vitamin D levels have long been linked to the increase of a range of diseases and ill health; Dr Cynthia Aranow has observed that “deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.”
Vitamin D is also involved in a complex process in which the immune system’s T cells are ‘primed’ to help to fight infection.
Neglecting your exercise routine
Studies have shown that people who exercise 30-45 minutes a day experience a 40-50% reduction in the number of days they get ill. With exercise, every little helps, so even if you start walking for 15 minutes a day it’s still better than nothing! You might find that a workout buddy helps you stay motivated, whether that’s for a socially-distanced run or a zoom yoga class. If not, let the thought of your immune system performing at its best (and all the other endless benefits of exercise!) give you the motivation you need!
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for you. But did you know that in addition to causing lung cancer and heart disease, smoking can also weaken your immune system? Scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that smoking affects dental health, reducing the ability of pulp inside teeth to fight illness and disease. These effects are reversible however, so put down that cigarette and pick up a mug of high-dose vitamin drinks instead!
Okay, this one’s a bit unfair since it’s no-one’s fault that we’re currently in the middle of a pandemic, but stress is the leading cause of imbalance in the immune system, which can weaken your defences and leave you more vulnerable to illness.
While life may be full of sources of stress outside of our control, we can control how we respond to such situations, and the steps we take to minimise their effect on us.
We’ve previously written a blog about the benefits of mindfulness, for example, which can be a great way to calm nerves and feel more grounded in your everyday life.