How to Optimise your Immune Function in Menopause
Mar 21, 2023
Unfortunately, as your hormones drop you are more prone to:
- Viral infections and viral reactivation of previous infections
- Bacterial and other microbial infections
- Auto-immune conditions
- Increased inflammation
If you have ever doubted the link between your hormones and your immune system think of those poor women that get cyclic thrush infections, cyclic herpes outbreaks or are generally more prone to infections at either ovulation or menstruation—two times of major hormonal change.
Luckily there are many things you can do to protect your immune system and give it a helping hand, no matter what stage of life you are in.
Lifestyle factors to improve immunity include:
- Stressing less
- Sleeping well
- Eating well
- Digesting well and having good bowel movements
- Breathing well and getting plenty of fresh air
- Getting adequate sunshine exposure
- Avoiding poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking
- Improving hygiene factors such as washing your hands
- Getting the right amount of exercise (underexercise and overexercise are linked with reduced immunity)
- Creating a healthy home to sure your body isn’t compromised by toxic substances, such as metals, mould, or chemicals.
- Avoiding cell-damaging radiation and electromagnetic fields
- Fostering positive, happy thoughts builds a stronger immune system. You know the old saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine’
- Anything that improves lymphatic movement improves your immunity. Consider dry skin brushing, massaging and stretching
- Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments can also assist your immune system
- Being your ideal body weight. Obesity increases inflammation and reduces immune function
- Are you eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables?
- Are you hydrated? Do you need more water?
- Are you eating adequate protein? Protein is an essential building block for new immune cells.
- Are you avoiding ‘bad’ processed/heated fats? Are you getting enough good fats?
- Avoid sugar. Sugar feeds the bugs and supports the other team.
There are many similar varieties. Add what you like, remove what you don’t. If I’m at home I load up extra garlic but if I’m making a batch to take to work, I leave the garlic out. Chili may be another ingredient you play with. Always check the potency and dilute as needed. Caution if taking with a high fever.
- 1L water
- 5 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 sliced chili
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Freshly squeezed lemon or lime
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Place water, ginger, chili, garlic and cinnamon into the saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain and add juice (lemon or lime) and honey to taste.
- Drink hot.
Any remaining liquid can be added back to ingredients and placed in the fridge and drank later. Warning: the longer you leave the ingredients together the more potent it gets. I highly recommend diluting this remaining batch with water. Another tip is to make a double batch and freeze one, as you never know when you are going to need it next.
Saltwater gargles can help to reduce sore throats and assist in loosening mucus/phlegm lodged in the throat area. Mucus is where bacteria and harmful microbes like to set up shop, so using salt water gargles can help to flush these microbes out of the body to allow for a faster recovery.
- 1 teaspoon of salt (Celtic Sea salt)
- 1 cup of warm-hot water
- Stir and dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into the cup of warm-hot water.
- Pour some of the salt solution into your mouth and while tilting the head back, start to gargle. Continue for about 1 minute and then spit the solution out.
- Continue to do this until all of the salt solution is gone.
- Repeat every few hours or as needed.
There are many benefits to sinus rinses:
- helps loosen thick mucous
- clears pathogens and helps prevent sinus infections
- it helps remove allergens like dust, and pollen from your nasal cavity,
- rehydrates nasal tissue.
- Probiotics: immune protecting, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory
- Vitamin A: decreases sensitivities to pollutants, acts as an antioxidant, improves mucous membrane integrity, increases lymphocytes (the little pac-men in your body that eat up foreign invaders), and generally increases resistance to infections and cancer.
- Vitamin B5: reduces your body’s response to stress, improves energy levels, and stimulates antibody production.
- Vitamin C: increases the production of natural antibodies especially lymphocytes, acts as a natural antihistamine, is antibacterial, antiviral, and an antioxidant.
- Vitamin D: is an immune balancer. It helps prevents infections and reduce auto-immunity.
- Vitamin E: is one of the strongest antioxidants. It works best for prevention and protection.
- Selenium: is needed to make natural antibodies.
- Zinc: is an antioxidant, helps prevent cancer, acts as an antihistamine, and acts as a strong immune enhancer by increasing lymphocytes and helper cells. Specifically, antiviral.
- Magnesium: is essential for proper thymus functioning, for the formation of prostaglandins, and for controlling histamine levels.
- Calcium: is needed by the T-cells to battle invading pathogens. It is also needed to enable white blood cells to digest and destroy viruses.
- Manganese: is needed to produce interferon.
- L-lysine: prevents viral replication and speeds up recovery from viral outbreaks.
- Echinacea: probably the best-known and most-used herb in the Western world. Echinacea is renowned for improving immunity in acute cases and for preventing infections. It is specific for fighting viral or bacterial infection, reducing inflammation, stimulating lymphatic movement, and for general healing. What most people don’t know is that is also an adaptogen, which means it helps to reduce your stress response.
- Andrographis: an Indian herb that reduces the stress response, reduces inflammation, improves digestion, tones the liver, and happens to be one of the strongest immune stimulators known to man. Good for chronic or acute infections.
- Astragalus: not to be used in acute infections. Works well in chronic immune deficiency and also helps reduce the body’s response to stress.