Protect Your Immune System this Summer
You might traditionally associate the need to support our immune system with the colder months, but the truth is that all the things we tend to do more of in the summer, whether it’s staying out late, travelling or socialising, can take their toll, making us more susceptible to illness. Here are three ways you can support your immune system this summer.
Get plenty of sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial throughout the year but if you suffer from allergies during the summer months, maintaining regular sleep habits could help reduce the associated symptoms. Histamine is a chemical created in the body that is released by white blood cells when the immune system identifies allergic triggers like pollen. When it’s released it causes those symptoms you’re probably all too familiar with like sneezing, wheezing and eye watering. Although this histamine release is part of a healthy immune response, it can be uncomfortable. The good news is that getting plenty of sleep, and deep sleep especially, can help reduce the body’s histamine response. That’s because our histamine levels are generally high in the daytime, low during sleep and very low during deep sleep.
Even 20-minutes of moderate exercise a day is enough to mobilise the body’s white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infection from pathogens. Better still, take advantage of the lighter mornings and warmer evenings and take your workout outside. Studies have shown that when we breathe in fresh outdoor air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants release to protect themselves from insects. These chemicals have antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities and when we breathe them in our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity white blood cell known as natural killer cells. These important cells help destroy virus-infected cells in our bodies.
Step into the sun
Although too much exposure to UV is not a good idea, getting some is important for increasing your body’s production of vitamin D, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Produced by the body in response to sunlight, vitamin D regulates both the innate and the adaptive systems, parts of our immune response that are both equally important in fighting infections. 10-30 minutes a day is all it takes but make sure you do this without applying sunscreen first, as this will only serve to block the rays and stop them penetrating your skin. If you want to be out for any longer, a braid spectrum high SPF is a must.