It’s that time of year again, when the dreaded lurgy gets around, and we suffer from colds, flu, and respiratory infections.
Getting a cold, flu or infection is just a part of life, and pretty much impossible to avoid, but some people seem to be sick all the time, right?
Most of us have had times in our lives when we just can’t seem to shake off and avoid illnesses, we feel run down, and beat up!
These times in our lives could be contributed to by immune compromise.
It’s not just the common cold either. Our immune system is a fluid system that is always, always on guard and active, fighting off infections, bacteria, cancerous cells, anything and everything that can harm us!
What is Immuno compromise? Immuno compromise can be defined as: a diminished immune response due to …well, any number of factors.
Lets’ talk about some, and what to do about them.
Medications and other drugs – There are quite a few medications that can affect the immune system.
Some of the steroids used for asthma (inhalers), arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.
Cholesterol lowering drugs.
Some common pain killers.
Immuno suppressant drugs.
Illicit drugs like alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines etc
Illness – Kinda obvious, but if you are suffering from a condition that is taking up your bodies immune system’s time, it may weaken you for another.
Age – The very young, and very old can be susceptible.
Stress – mental, physical, chemical.
Being stressed out due to work, relationships, money can leave you fatigued, may take up a lot of your time and “mental space”, and leave you susceptible to physical ailments.
Physical stress come in the form of illness, over exercising, or injuries.
Chemical stress could be from medications, illicit drugs, hormone imbalances, or imbalances in the bodies chemistry.
Exercise – Both over exercising and under exercising can cause the immune system to be overwhelmed.
Both elite athletes and those who never exercise have a higher incidence of succumbing to illness or infection than those who participate in the right balance of exercise.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies – A deficiency in Vitamins like: A, B6, B12, Thiamin, C, D , E Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, can all result in an compromised immune system.
Luckily, eating a nutritious diet which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables will cover most vitamin and minerals requirements.
Use of vitamin or mineral supplements can take up any slack there, but as always, we recommend a nutritious diet first before supplementation.
Low body fat – Having a single digit body fat percentage, whilst seemingly an attractive goal, can lead to immune system problems IF an appropriate nutrition plan is not followed.
This can be prevalent in elite level athletes, who can suffer more infections or illnesses, especially leading up to milestone events.
So, what do you do about immune compromise, and how can you give yourself the best chance of beating the winter lurgies?
Get plenty of rest – Make sure you get the right amount or rest.
The average person needs 7-9 hours sleep per day on average. Everyone is different , but the right amount of sleep for you, regularly, will bolster your immune system.
Rest from workouts is important too, as mentioned earlier, over exercising can be detrimental to your immune system. Not allowing for appropriate periods of rest , or periodising your workout plan, can lead to overworking your immune system.
Get some exercise – Challenging, yet appropriate amounts of exercise give your immune system the best chance.
Doing nothing is just as bad as doing too much. Somewhere in the middle is just right.
Over exercising can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads us to …
Reduce stress – Stress takes a toll on a person in many ways, and can come in different forms.
Making sure you actively address stress, and take measures to reduce and / or deal with stress can improve your body’s immune response.
Yoga, meditation, walking, take up a martial art, take up a competitive sport, any pleasurable activities can reduce stress.
Like anything worthwhile however, it wont just happen, you need to actually have a plan of action to help you deal with stress.
Eat right – A nutritious diet is essential in many ways to give your immune system the best chance.
Don’t over, or under eat. As with exercise, under or over eating will have a detrimental effect on your immune system.
Making sure you get plenty of fruit and vegies will help ensure you have the right amounts of vitamins and minerals required to help your immune system.
Supplementing those vitamins and minerals is perfectly ok, but we should always strive to meet our needs through good food where possible.
Stay hydrated, water is required for every single metabolic process in the body, as always, I can’t stress drinking enough water everyday enough. If you aim for roughly 1 litre per 30 kgs of body weight you should be getting plenty!
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Obviously, from time to time we need prescribed medications for various ailments, I’m not advocating refusing medication, however, just be aware that prolonged use of some drugs, prescribed or illicit, can have an affect on the immune system.
Have a laugh with your mates! – Having an active social life, spending time with people you care about, and having a laugh have all been proved to reduce stress and boost the immune system.
Combine those laughs, time with mates with some exercise and you have the perfect stress busting, immune system boosting formula!
Want to exercise with some awesome fun people? Hit me up for your free success session, and we’ll talk about how to make that happen for you.