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Immune system, fatigue and infections Guides and tutorials

What can you do to stimulate your immune system in the morning?

Taking optimal care of your natural defences begins as soon as you jump out of bed! Adopt this healthy routine to help boost your immunity.
Energetic man in the morning
There are daily habits you can adopt that will help boost your immune system.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2021-09-07Commentaires (0)

Why do you need to take action to boost your immune system as soon as you wake up?

Faced with a constant barrage of external aggressors (bacteria, viruses parasites …) as well as internal ones (stress, smoking, unbalanced diet …), the body needs to protect itself in whatever way it can. It has thus established a highly-developed system of defence to neutralise potential invaders.

The first line of defence consists of neutrophils and macrophages which, through a process called ‘phagocytosis’, indiscriminately engulf foreign bodies (1). If the task they face is too great, the immune system brings out the ‘big guns’ in the form of white cells called lymphocytes which specifically target the pathogen to be eliminated (the antigen) (2).

It’s not difficult to see why we need to marshal our immune forcesas early in the day as possible, in order for our bodies to remain protected throughout the day!

Deep breathing to reboot the lymphatic system

Like all cells, white blood cells need energy to function at full capacity. This energy comes primarily from glucose and oxygen. It’s no surprise that respiration plays a key role in boosting immunity!

Breathing deeply helps improve oxygenation of cells. It also facilitates the movement of lymph through lymph vessels – and thus the elimination of waste products (3).

Even before you’ve got out of bed, try this abdominal breathing exercise :

Take outdoor exercise for a natural boost to your immunity

By maintaining good muscle mass, you’ll be providing your white cells with a significant reserve of glutamine, a source of fuel these cells need when fighting infection.

Regular, moderate-intensity exercise is therefore a very good idea (4). The best option for giving your immune cells a big breath of fresh air is an early morning walk in the forest!

Vitamin C for normal immune function

A glass of orange juice at breakfast? Excellent choice! Like kiwi fruit, blackcurrants and other citrus fruits, it contains vitamin C which not only plays a role in normal immune system function but also helps to reduce fatigue(5).

To increase your intake, you could also opt for a vitamin C supplement (such as Liposomal Vitamin C, a patented liposomal formulation for optimal absorption).

Take a cold shower to wake up your body’s lymphocytes

You may prefer the jacuzzi but a cold shower appears to produce more health benefits, naturally increasing production of lymphocytes, the body’s ‘immune memory’ (6). It also has an energising effect on the circulation. Two good reasons to give it a go!

Astragalus, to support the body’s defences

Indigenous to north-eastern China, astragalus is a major ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine where it is used as a ‘Yang’ tonic. The plant’s roots support the body’s defences in fighting external aggressors and also help maintain good physical and mental resistance(7-8).

Sometimes drunk as a tea, astragalus is is also available in the form of a convenient liquid supplement (such as Astragalus Extract, standardised to 16% polysaccharides).

Boost your immune system with Qi-Gong

With its origins in Chinese medicine,Qi-Gong is a gentle practice combining posture and breathing exercises aimed at rebalancing the body’s energy flow. Certain movements work in particular on Weiqi, the energy of the immune system, thus preventing weaknesses in the body’s natural defences (9-10).

When you get up in the morning, you can activate the Qi of the lungs for example, by crossing your arms over your chest, with your fingers on your collar bone. Take a deep breath in, then fully exhale, making a quiet humming sound as you do so.

Purple echinacea for the defence system

A member of the large Asteraceae family, purple echinacea(Echinacea purpurea) is a hardy, daisy-like plant with pink petals. Much prized by native Americans, it is today a favourite of European herbalists as it supports healthy functioning of the body’s defences (11).

It features in some excellent synergistic supplements such as Immunity Booster, based on organic echinacea and acerola cherry extract, a source of vitamin C.

Vitamin B6 for maintaining normal immune function

As a cofactor in numerous biochemical reactions (including antibody production), vitamin B6 supports normal immune system function and helps reduce fatigue(12).

An essential vitamin, it must be obtained from the diet: good sources include offal, meat, fish, brewer’s yeast, pulses and wholegrains.

Banish morning stress fast

During periods of physical or psychological stress, our immune systems tend to become weaker. They are thus more vulnerable to harmful external agents, paving the way for free radicals which make our cells ‘rust’ (13-14).

So how about starting the day with a good dose of positivity? Yoga, meditation, music, colouring in: give yourself some relaxing ‘me’ time in the morning before you face the day’s challenges!

Cat’s claw for supporting immune function

Also known as vine of Peru, cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) gets its name from its hook-shaped stipules. A feature of the Amazon pharmacopoeia for millennia, it is able to support immune function, due in particular, to its high alkaloid content (15).

Certain supplements (including AC11, a patented cat’s claw extract standardised to 8% carboxyl-alkyl-esters) now offer all the benefits of this key traditional medicine plant.

References

  1. Kantari C, Pederzoli-Ribeil M, Witko-Sarsat V. The role of neutrophils and monocytes in innate immunity. Contrib Microbiol. 2008;15:118-146. doi: 10.1159/000136335. PMID: 18511859.
  2. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. Lymphocytes and the Cellular Basis of Adaptive Immunity. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26921/
  3. Moore JE Jr, Bertram CD. Lymphatic System Flows. Annu Rev Fluid Mech. 2018;50:459-482. doi:10.1146/annurev-fluid-122316-045259
  4. Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. J Sport Health Sci. 2019;8(3):201-217. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009
  5. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
  6. Buijze GA, Sierevelt IN, van der Heijden BC, Dijkgraaf MG, Frings-Dresen MH. The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial [published correction appears in PLoS One. 2018 Aug 2;13(8):e0201978]. PLoS One. 2016;11(9):e0161749. Published 2016 Sep 15. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161749
  7. Qin Q, Niu J, Wang Z, Xu W, Qiao Z, Gu Y. Astragalus embranaceus extract activates immune response in macrophages via heparanase. Molecules. 2012;17(6):7232-7240. Published 2012 Jun 13. doi:10.3390/molecules17067232
  8. Kallon S, Li X, Ji J, et al. Astragalus polysaccharide enhances immunity and inhibits H9N2 avian influenza virus in vitro and in vivo. J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2013;4(1):22. Published 2013 Jun 21. doi:10.1186/2049-1891-4-22
  9. Lee MS, Huh HJ, Jeong SM, Lee HS, Ryu H, Park JH, Chung HT, Woo WH. Effects of Qigong on immune cells. Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(2):327-35. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X03001016. PMID: 12856872.
  10. Oh B, Bae K, Lamoury G, et al. The Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong on Immune Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Medicines (Basel). 2020;7(7):39. Published 2020 Jun 30. doi:10.3390/medicines7070039
  11. Zhai Z, Liu Y, Wu L, Senchina DS, Wurtele ES, Murphy PA, Kohut ML, Cunnick JE. Enhancement of innate and adaptive immune functions by multiple Echinacea species. J Med Food. 2007 Sep;10(3):423-34. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2006.257. PMID: 17887935; PMCID: PMC2362099.
  12. Cheng CH, Chang SJ, Lee BJ, Lin KL, Huang YC. Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;60(10):1207-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602439. Epub 2006 May 3. PMID: 16670691.
  13. Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004;130(4):601-630. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601
  14. Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser J. How stress damages immune system and health. Discov Med. 2005 Apr;5(26):165-9. PMID: 20704904.
  15. Yunis-Aguinaga J, Claudiano GS, Marcusso PF, Manrique WG, de Moraes JR, de Moraes FR, Fernandes JB. Uncaria tomentosa increases growth and immune activity in Oreochromis niloticus challenged with Streptococcus agalactiae. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2015 Nov;47(1):630-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2015.09.051. Epub 2015 Oct 3. PMID: 26434713.
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