Winter is a time for colds and the dreaded flu. It is a time when building, supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system is the best way to naturally get rid of those nasty bugs that have been lurking around for too long. When we are healthy, we feel strong and this applies to our skin as well. A healthy skin ages slower, has fewer free radicals and looks, in one word, great!
There are ways to help build up a healthy immune system so that it has the best chance at fighting off what’s been going around and then the rest of the body and the skin can work in harmony too.
The Basics of a Healthy Immune System
- Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Your body requires the right nutrients to keep every cell, including our immune cells, working in perfect condition. Cut out processed foods, simple sugars and fast food in your diet and you will start to feel the difference.
- Drink water – hydration is the key to keeping your cells working in tip-top condition and it is recommended that we have at least 2 litres of water a day. If you’re not a fan of water, you can try infusing fruits, such as berries, in a jug of water overnight or squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice into a glass of water. Herbal teas are also a great way to increase your water intake.
- Getting enough rest is vital for the body to be able to effectively repair and restore. It is recommended that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try a 5-10 minute guided meditation before bed. It is also helpful to exercise in the morning rather than in the evening.
The Immune System Boosters
There are certain herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes that you can adopt into your everyday life that can help to support and build your immune system. Here are a few that have been tried, tested and are known to make a difference:
- Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be taken as supplements or consumed in fermented foods. They are used to maintain the intestinal flora, which has been shown in numerous studies to affect our overall health and wellbeing, including our immune system. Probiotics help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut and they have also been found to promote the production of natural antibodies, which form a part of our bodies innate defence network. So, probiotics are definitely worth adding to your diet!
- Ginger has been used for a long time in traditional herbal medicine. It is known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps to support the immune system as it reduces the oxidative stress that contributes to immunological dysfunction. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory by suppressing the activity of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body that may be causing more harm than good.
- Zinc is a great mineral to take when supporting and boosting the immune system, as it is able to balance out the immune response by not letting it spiral out of control. It is also an antioxidant for the skin, working magic on collagen fibers deep down – another reason to use a zinc-based sunblock daily!
- Vitamin C – It is well known that Vitamin C has a positive effect on the immune system, as it supports the function of white blood cells. These white blood cells work to fight against harmful bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, which means that it is able to fight against free radicals that cause DNA damage to all the cells in the body. It is a daily requirement for the skin, as it is essential for normal function but cannot be stored for later use.
- Reduce levels of stress – In small doses, stress is good for you. When we are in a situation where we need to react quickly, the body’s fight or flight mode kicks in. This sends signals to our stress hormones, which flood the body and prepare it to fight or run away! However, there are a lot of people who live in a constant state of stress and the effect that this has on the body can be devastating. The stress hormones are constantly circulating the body and suppressing the immune system as they do so. There are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of stress in our day-to-day lives, but exercise is a particularly great way to do this.
- Exercise is a great way to help boost the immune system. Firstly, as mentioned above, it helps to reduce the amount of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, that are floating around the body during times of stress. At the same time, it boosts the amount of endorphins, which are known as happy hormones. As exercise increases blood flow, it also increases the amount of white blood cells that circulate around the body. These cells are what detect and stop bacteria or viruses from making us sick. Exercise can also help to flush out bacteria that may settle in the lungs. There is no need to be a gym junkie though – find what you enjoy and simply do it regularly!
So how is all of this related to the skin? At The Skin Care Clinic, we believe in a holistic approach to skin care. When the immune system is able to function properly, other tissues and organs of the body can work effectively too. This includes the skin. We all know that when we are “run down”, our skin shows this on the outside. Taking good care of your insides, will also show on your skin in the form of a healthy glow!
Still not sure?
If you need more help or would like personalised advice on what skincare products are best for you, book now for your consultation with a skin care advisor:
Or fill in the Online Skin Consultation and Gaye, our registered nurse, will happily help you to choose the right treatments and products for your skin type or concern.