We often talk about “boosting” our immune system, but what does that mean? Sure, diet is important, but sometimes, if there is other stuff going on in your life, then diet may not make any difference to how we feel. So why is that?
The answer comes back to those two expressions that describe activity of the nervous system; Fight or Flight and Rest and Digest.
The “Fight or flight” response is when our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is fired up, whereas “Rest and Digest” describes activity relating to the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS)
The way things work is that if (for example) we found ourselves in the jungle being chased by a rhino, our nervous system would immediately go into stress mode – which is all about survival and escape. Blood moves away from our core and into our limbs and blood vessels contract. This means heart rate increases and breath quickens. From here, glucose is dumped into the blood for a quick burst of energy – to facilitate that getaway. Our nervous system considers that it’s really not the time to focus on digesting the meal you had earlier and neither is it useful at this particular moment to go to sleep, to heal that cut on your arm or shift that annoying cough or sore throate you’ve been suffering from. Reproduction? Not right now! We gotta get out of here!
In other words, our immune system (and many others) cannot function properly during times of stress and our body interprets all stressors in exactly the same way (regardless of whether there is a charging rhino or not).
This is all okay. In fact it’s useful – but only in small doses.
When we are in a relaxed state, the body functions optimally. It can heal, sleep, reproduce and digest and assimilate food. This is why PSNS activity is described as rest and digest.
So what do we imagine the long term effects of a rapid heart rate, over-breathing, excess glucose, limited core circulation, lack of restful sleep and dysfunctional multiple systems could, over time, lead to in a human body? I think it’s fair to say MANY of the current ailments we now equate with our 21st century lifestyle.
So, to boost your immune system and your health overall, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money or try every single fad. It may just be just a case of letting go of ambition and perfectionism, living a life that resonates with your true self, and sometimes…Just. Doing. Nothing.
Oh, and making yoga part of your life x