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With the cold and flu season upon us it is wise to consider how you can take precautions and really support your immune system to take on those viruses and bacteria which can take hold.

The immune system is a complex system not a single entity and is comprised of many types of cells with an estimated 70% of these being found in the gut wall. This leads us on to the first tip:

1. Diet

Eating fresh whole food, as opposed to processed foods, gives us the correct nutrients to create a good immune response. It also supports a positive environment for the beneficial bacteria in our gut. A well-balanced diet is one of the foundations of good health, as well as an effective way to support your immune system.

2. Exercise

Moderate exercise is considered to contribute to good overall health and therefore a strong immune function. The hard scientific evidence for this surprisingly has still not be found but is considered by some to be due to promoting good circulation so that cells and substances of the immune system can flow freely around the body.

3. Stress Reduction

Researchers from Ohio State University have shown that psychological stress affects the immune system by disrupting the way that the immune system communicates with the nervous and hormonal systems. Using meditation, yoga, hypnosis or other relaxation methods may help protect us from this. Scientific research has shown that there is a significant alteration of the immune response as measured by B-cells and helper T-cells in highly hypnotisable subjects.

4. Sleep

The Sleep Centre at the University of Texas notes that a lot of studies show that sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function which decreases the body’s ability to respond to colds or bacterial infections. If you do get a cold or flu, your body fights it off with a fever response which is also better if you have a good sleeping pattern. If you have a good balance of the first three items in this list, your sleep is likely to be of good quality but also make sure you have 7-8 hours.

After reading this, I’m questioning whether I practise what I preach. Today the answer is yes. I’ve already meditated for half an hour, I had a healthy breakfast and lunch, I’m about to exercise on my bike for half an hour and with the combination of these 3 elements of my day I expect to sleep soundly tonight. I hope you will too.

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