While we are at home, waiting for restrictions to lower, it’s a perfect time for us to focus on strengthening our immune systems. Whether we want to protect ourselves from COVID-19 or start preparing for the upcoming flu season. Establishing your immune system boosting routine will allow you to stay protected all year round. Two immune boosting practices to start incorporating into your daily life require two simple things: your breath and water.
There are many different breathing methods you can to strengthen your immune system. Between the Wim Hof method, mindful breathing, Pranayama, and abdominal breathing, there are a multitude of techniques that will help, it’s only a matter of finding what suits you best. Ultimately, it’s important to be mindful that the way we breathe matters. The air that we breathe converts into chemicals that we need in order to fuel our cells so it impacts our body’s chemistry.
Controlled breathing has been shown to have a positive effect on the body, which has even been acknowledged by The Wall Street Journal. It does this through lowering cortisol levels, lowering blood pressure, improving arterial blood flow, and improving autonomic responses to both physical and mental stress. These benefits all add up to allow your breathing to become disease fighting. Through mindful breathing, we can help fight the progression of autoimmune by calming our nervous system.
Cortisol is usually referred to as the body’s stress hormone. While it performs multiple functions, high cortisol levels are harmful. High levels are related to auto-immune diseases, poor sleep, hormone imbalance, and more. This goes to show that stress is another trigger for autoimmune disease activation. In times of stress, our body releases more inflammatory chemicals throughout the body, like histamine. This starts a chemical cascade in our protection system, causing both our body and brain to attempt to determine what defense is required to prevent an attack on the body. Keeping stress in check is vital for your long-term health. Activating what’s called the parasympathetic (relaxation) response of our nervous system and turning off the sympathetic (stress) response is essential.
There have been studies showing that breathing techniques do exactly just that. A 2005 study explored the potential for Sudarshan Kriya and Pranayama breathing processes – both rhythmic breathing techniques – in immune system improvements and stress reduction. The subjects were all cancer patients and the results showed that regular breathing exercises could help boost immune cells that can combat cancer progression.
The second immune boosting practice is through adequate hydration. Water allows your body’s systems to function at optimum levels. Drinking lots of water ensures that your blood will be able to carry plenty of oxygen to all the cells in your body. Water also aids your kidney in getting rid of toxins in your body. If you’re not drinking enough water, your immune system will weaken, as you’re not able to properly absorb nutrients from food or expel toxins.
Not getting enough water can inhibit your immune system through stunted lymph production. Lymph is responsible for carrying nutrients, white blood cells, and other immune system cells throughout the body. Your eyes and mouth also suffer. Water keeps your eyes and mouth healthy by repelling dirt, dust, and parasites through ample moisture.
Ensuring that you’re drinking plenty of water helps your body stay healthy in the long term. A surprising number of illnesses may be treated or prevented just by drinking eight to 10 glasses of water on a daily basis. They include:
- Arthritis and joint problems, which water can help by lubricating your joints
- Depression, which water can aid your brain in producing enough serotonin
- Insomnia, since your brain needs water to produce melatonin
- Leukemia and lymphoma, since drinking lots of water ensures that your body produces adequate amounts of blood and immune cells, and that they circulate properly
Two of the most effective ways to boost your immune system involve things you use every day, your breath and water. The physiological response to deep, controlled, mindful breathing is incredibly profound and water allows your body to function to the best of its abilities. Breathing exercises and drinking plenty of water are two of the most effective practices you can do right now for your well being. So just breathe and drink a liter of water a day!