Keeping Healthy This Winter

It may have been a warmish October in places, but November?

We’re feeling the chill in the air and the cold, wet weather seems to have finally come upon us.

For many people this change is not a big deal.

This is particularly true for those that are young, fit and healthy.

However, for those with weakened immune systems and older adults (especially those over the age of 65), this change in the weather can lead to serious health conditions and health deterioration.

Yet there are some things that you can do to help prevent this!

[1] If you are older, make sure that you keep yourself warm. This can include wearing an extra layer, or even turning up the heating.

Heating your home can be expensive, but please, if you can, do, and if you can’t afford to, please ask for help.

It’s understandable that you might not want to, but not doing so can worsen conditions such as arthritis and isn’t very good for your circulation either.

[2] Make sure that you’re getting enough water! It’s really easy to let this one slip by in the winter, particularly when it’s cold outside and you keep the water in the fridge! However, it’s still important.

Drinking water will not only help keep your skin from getting dry, but it will also help keep your body healthy.

Your body cannot do anything without water, so give it a helping hand.

[3] Try to pioneer a healthy lifestyle. It’s even more important in the winter to fuel yourself on healthy foods and to partake in regular exercise.

Both of these things help to boost your immunity and will help you when it comes to fighting off those nasty bugs, colds and flu’s that travel around.

Most importantly, don’t forget to look after those close to you.

If you know an elderly person that lives on there own, please check on them and make sure that they are ok.

The Importance of Dental Hygiene

beta glucanWhen you think of dental hygiene, your mind probably takes you to a place filled with dentist’s chairs and fillings.

You don’t however think of the impact that your dental health has on your immune system and the implications that bad dental hygiene can have, (that is besides the extra fillings and tooth removals!)

Think of it this way; Your mouth contains more than 500 different types of bacteria species in it at any one time.

These bacteria easily get in between your teeth and form a film over your gums every time that you open your mouth, eat or breath.

The only thing that is stopping them from entering your body entirely is your saliva.

The saliva in your mouth contains lots of antibodies.

This is what stops you from getting sick all of the time (the mouth being a super easy entrance for unwanted infections and virus’!).

However, when you are feeling run down, or have a pre-diagnosed condition such as diabetes or an autoimmune deficiency, the number of antibodies in the saliva becomes reduced.

For this reason, it is important to stop the bacteria and build up of plaque in the mouth with good dental hygiene so that not only will you not have to deal with the painful dental treatments, but also so that you will reduce your chances of getting sick.

In addition to the affect that dental hygiene has on the immune system, the mouth is also a huge window into telling us about the human body and your health in general.

Most people may not realize that their saliva alone can tell doctors about stress responses, hormonal imbalances, antibodies and even tell if a person has HIV or not.

So, next time that your dragging your feet and postponing going to the dentist, think twice.

Flu Vaccination

beta glucanIt’s that time of year again, when all those pesky flus and colds jump back on the scene and threaten to make you feel ill.

However, a lot is being done to prevent the spread of flu and colds, particularly to those who are most vulnerable to infectious illnesses and the complications that can sometimes occur.

Namely, this is done via the flu jab.

Presently the flu jab is available to those over 65, pregnant women, adults with prior health conditions and those with weakened immune systems.

Despite there being no guarantee that the vaccine is 100% effective at preventing flu and it’s various symptoms, it has been incredibly effective at reducing the chance of someone that had been vaccinated against flu catching it in the future.

It’s high success rate is due to the fact that it contains an inactive version of the flu.

As the vaccine contains an inactive version of the virus, it is thereby it impossible to catch even a weakened version of the flu from the vaccine.

Instead your immune system is exposed to a safe version I of the virus, enabling it to produce the correct antibodies straight away, and preventing the vaccinated individual from contracting it in the future.

Although you will not contract the flu from the vaccine, it is possible that having the vaccination will cause some side affects.

These side affects range from a heightened temperature to muscle aches and pains.

It is still however recommended that those in the at risk categories do have the injection.

This way, it will prevent any future complications.

Treating Eczema

beta glucanEczema can be a horrible affliction, especially when it continues well into adulthood.

Usually a skin condition that affects children, eczema affects patches of skin, usually behind the knees, on the elbows and around the eyes and ears.

As well as causing the skin to become inflamed and red, be very dry, and often cracked it can also be incredibly itchy.

When you take into consideration that this skin problem is around already sensitive areas such as the eyes and ears, you can only imagine the discomfort.

However, it can be treated, and statistics show that in 65% of all childhood cases of eczema clear up by the time the individual turns 16.

This is great news for any parents that are worried about their children with eczema.

We know that your immune system gets weaker when you are under a lot of stress, are eating badly and in an unfavorable environment, but it’s lesser known that eczema can be triggered by  hormonal changes and even genetics, although it hasn’t yet been discovered why it is genetic yet.

However, once you have undergone a consultation with your GP they should be able to give you some cream to help clear it up, and if it’s serious they may give you some oral medication too.

Yet, there are some natural things that you can try too. These include:

  • Eating more probiotic foods like yoghurt, ginger beer, and miso.
  • Using a thin layer of coconut oil to treat the affected area (if you are not sensitive to coconut oil that is!)
  • Take cod liver oil supplements at least once per day.
  • Try not to scratch the affected area, it will make it more inflamed and may break the skin.
  • Try to find out what is irritating your skin (if there is anything) and avoid it the best you can, sometimes the best cure is prevention!

Getting Outside

beta glucanAs the days begin to get shorter, and the air turns cooler, it can seem all too tempting to curl up inside and hide from the world.

However, getting outside can be a great way to boost your energy, as well as your mental and physical health. More than that though, it can also help boost your immunity.

In 2009 a study was completed and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, stating that the closer that people live to nature (streams, woodland, grass land), the more healthy you are and the less likely that you are to be depressed or have high levels of anxiety.

Primarily it is thought that this is because by exposing yourself to nature and being outside you are increasing your vitamin D levels, and because of the natural light, the more time that you spend outside, the more you are able to regulate your body clock.

By regulating your body clock, you are helping your body to fall asleep naturally, which in turn helps you to recharge and feel more healthy and awake. This is good news for your immunity too.

By taking time out of your busy schedule to go outside and take in the environment, you are also taking time for yourself.

This gives us a break from technology and the hectic nature of our every day lives and lets our minds breath.

It might not seem very important but it is in these brief moments when we are alone and are able to get in touch with what is around us, where we are able to reflect on what has happened in our lives as well as the future without getting caught up on worrying that we are able to become centered.

Being centered helps to focus the mind and the body, helping you to become more healthy and helping you to decide that is what you want to be.

Where Do Allergies Come From?

allergiesOne minute you’re perfectly fine.

You’re able to eat nuts and gluten and milk, but the next?

You’re intolerant or you’ve developed an allergy.

Of course, it’s true that some people know from a young age that they are allergic or intolerant to a food or drink, but it doesn’t always work that way, and when it doesn’t it can be particularly dangerous, especially with severe reactions.

But how do allergies develop? Are they a sign of general ill health? And are their any steps that you can take to help prevent yourself from developing allergies, or from any existing allergies from getting worse?

The general consensus when it comes to allergies is that the problem exists within the immune system. The allergic reaction, usually physical such as a rash, swollen throat, itchy ears, sneezing and watery eyes is your bodies way of saying that something is wrong, that there is an intruder entering your body that shouldn’t be there.

As the body thinks that there is something bad entering it, it therefore violently tries to reject it, namely as a method of protecting you. However, nuts for example aren’t bacteria, and are not going to make you sick.

The bodies reaction is an overreaction, and this is because the immune system is overreacting to the stimuli (in this case nuts), regardless of if it is actually dangerous or not.

The reaction takes place because the macrophage cells can become activated by anything, and when these cells become sensitised to anything (including dust, pollen and food or drink) allergic reactions can occur.

The macrophage cells are also the reason that you can be perfectly fine eating something one day, and then the next day have a reaction. Once the macrophage cell recognises the substance that has triggered its sensitisation beforehand, it will react more to it the second or third time causing physical symptoms.

The only thing that you can really do to fix this is to help regulate your immune system.

Your immune system is heavily dependent on your lifestyle, so the more healthy you are, the better your general wellbeing and more active your immune system is at targeting threats without overreacting to external stimuli.

How Your Immune System Works

your_immune_systemWhen somebody says “immunity” or “Oh! Your immune system must be down” we can assume that they mean our body’s defences are low, and therefore we are more susceptible to illnesses and disease.

But how this system works often goes under the radar, with not many people really understanding how they can boost it up, or why boosting their immune system is important.

However, understanding the way that it works can lead you to make better choices regarding your diet and lifestyle, and make you feel a lot better too!

The immune system is a great defender of our health.

By this, I mean that it is the bodies’ mechanism for keeping diseases and illnesses at bay.

Of course, if everyone’s immune systems worked at their optimal level, we would never get sick.

Unfortunately, diet and lifestyle choices mean that a lot of the time, the mechanism that protects us is unable to work at its optimal level, and because of this it lets pathogens (the nasty bacteria, virus or organisms that make you sick) slip past it’s defences causing you to become ill.

When pathogens slip past it’s defences, the immune system is also the system responsible for making you feel well after being ill.

Again, if your immune system is weak, this process will take a lot longer, even for simple illnesses like colds.

But how does it work?

Well, when a pathogen enters your body, its main aim is to reproduce itself.

At this point the pathogen is a teeny tiny cell, and it needs to take over your body and make you sick to survive.

Fortunately for us however, there are cells that make up part of our immune systems’ called macrophages.

These macrophages pretty much patrol our bodies’ looking for anything out of the ordinary, or an “intruder”.

A majority of the time these “intruders” are pathogens, however, sometimes things such as pollen or anything that is an allergen can be identified as such.

When they find these pathogen cells, they immediately aim to destroy them.

If they are unable to destroy them, then the immune system goes into its secondary phase of producing extra T and B cells.

At this point you will probably feel the illness taking a hold, but they do work to fight it as soon as they can, and collect data so that the same bacteria will not be able to harm you again.

Pretty fantastic right?

Immunity Juice

immunity juiceIt can be hard to think about boosting your immune system when you’re feeling run down, or if you have been whizzing around doing 1000 things at once, but it’s definitely an important part of life and integral in keeping up your health and well being.

A really quick and easy way to keep your immune system at its highest point regardless of what your day to day schedule is like, or how run down you feel can therefore be achieved through what you eat and drink.

It can be hard to consistently get the nutrients that you need through what you eat, especially if you are constantly on the go, however even if you aren’t getting regular meals a quick and healthy drink could be a beneficial addition to your morning routine.

We’ve all seen the supermarket shelves, packed with juices and mixes that claim to be healthy and nutritious, but what’s  the best way to insure that you are getting the best boost you possibly can?

Through mixing it yourself. This is not to say that some of the ones available in shops are bad for you, but some do contain hidden sugars and added preservatives.

The best health drinks are always made fresh, and can even be whipped up before bed, and placed in the fridge ready for the morning!

But what are the most beneficial super foods to put in them? Well, here are some of our favourites:

Blueberries – High in antioxidants, suspected to boost brainpower, and great for your skin, they’re the perfect berries to get your day started with.

Bananas – A great energy and mood booster, high in potassium and a prebiotic, they are even better than coffee as a morning pep-me-up!

Strawberries – Super juicy and packed full of Vitamin C they’re an excellent immunity booster. Perfect for keeping your health in perfect condition.

Greek Yogurt – Everyone needs calcium in their diet, and low fat Greek yogurt provides this, alongside an array of vitamins, potassium and protein. It also makes the drink that little bit more substantial, and we all know how important breakfast is!

Honey – Honey has been used for thousands of years to cure ailments, but it’s particularly useful for it’s antioxidant properties, it’s ability to fight infections and it’s ability to preserve itself. A spoonful of honey a day keeps the doctor away…

But our most favourite thing about mixing up these drinks up in the comfort of our own kitchens?

The fact that we can pick and choose and come up with a different recipe every day!

What will you come up with?

Hay Fever Season

Hay fever is an allergic reaction, normally caused by pollen from grass, plants, and flowers.hay fever

When these are inhaled through the nose and mouth the body reacts to the pollen as if it were a harmful substance trying to enter it.

As the body thinks that the pollen is a harmful infection, it overreacts and therefore produces lots and lots of antibodies to destroy the infection or danger.

As pollen is constantly surrounding us, it leads to a prolonged reaction, causing a tightening of muscles, sneezing and itching in localised areas.

For the past couple of weeks people have been experiencing these symptoms and stocking up on their antihistamines due to the early growth of springtime plants and flowers in the UK.

The public’s seasonal health struggle with hay fever has already kicked in, and yet there is still a long way to go until the end of summer.

Not only is hay fever annoying for all those who are affected by the various types of pollen, but it can also be debilitating, causing sneezing, itchy, runny eyes and even headaches.

These symptoms can often disrupt every day activities and often leave the sufferer feeling lethargic and run down.

However, Beta Glucan may provide a longer-term solution than daily antihistamines

Beta Glucan is a completely natural remedy, consisting of 93-97% with the rest being chitin (a polysaccharide that helps with the absorption). This means that it won’t cause any adverse reactions.

Beta Glucan works by boosting and regulating your immune system so that when the allergen, in this case, the pollen enters the body, the body does not overreact as much as it would do otherwise.

By taking one Beta Glucan tablet a day you are therefore building up this immunity and in turn building up your immune system.

This therefore has a positive effect on how it is regulated, causing your allergies to reduce and your summers to be stress free – just the way that we like them!

Your Immune System Is Your First Line of Defence

immune_system

Your immune system is the body’s first line of defence against any dangerous pathogens or bacteria that have entered your body. Without your immune system these pathogens would spread around your body quite rapidly making you ill. It is therefore, one of the most important parts of the body’s protective system, making it integral to keep it working at an optimal level.

There are however, many things that can affect your immune system and that stop it from working as well as it should, such as aging (your immune system naturally declines as you grow older), mental and physical stresses, and environmental factors. As well as this, your immune system can also be weakened by exposure to various types of radiation such as x-ray, UV, gamma and cosmic rays, especially when flying long distances, an unhealthy lifestyle, bad eating habits, existing illnesses and certain treatments for illnesses. By looking at these factors, it is apparent that some of them are unavoidable, however it is important to realise that they do play a big part in our wellbeing, so making healthy choices is imperative!

Sometimes however, it is not a weak immune system that is the problem, instead it can be an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to overreact. This imbalance in the immune system is the source of allergic reactions. When an allergen enters the body, the immune system acts as if it was a dangerous pathogen, overreacting and trying to destroy it by producing lots of antibodies. The overproduction of antibodies thus leads to a tightening of muscles, sneezing and itching, all traits that we have come to recognise as an allergic reaction.

Thus, both a weakened and imbalanced immune system can cause the body to act in dramatic ways, leading to illness and physical reactions. However living a healthy life can help these effects on the immune system. Positive changes include eating healthily, exercising more and avoiding long distance flights. Beta Glucan also helps by activating the immune system helping it to work at an optimal level, avoiding imbalances and weaknesses that could result in you getting sick.