By Joan Ebsworth, guest writer for sense*, biologist and mother of sense* Founder, Jonathan on lifestyle choices for immunity, part 3 of her review of the immune system. 

Changing Your Lifestyle Choices

Once you mention changing lifestyle choices for immunity or anything else, to most people, the shutters are pulled down very rapidly. They do not want to hear.

You can see it on their faces; you can hear the change in voice tone plus their use of language! I have doctor friends who are “afraid” to mention to patients that their lifestyles choices are actually impacting their health detrimentally.

Most people want to leave a surgery with a prescription for a pharmaceutical that will mask their symptoms or relieve their pain.

Mind you, most doctors do not want to talk to their patients about lifestyle choices and health either because they don’t believe in it themselves. They are trained to diagnose and prescribe.

Diet Comes First for Lifestyle Choices

My research into my immune system continues and the impact that lifestyle choices make for immunity has astounded me. Remember that I am no “expert” but I am a biologist and I do want to find out more and more and I hope that you do to.

What we put into our mouths is still at the top of the list, even more so now! If you want an in depth read on what’s missing from today’s food and diets then take a look at The Nutrition Gap – What We Don’t Know!

I have been reading more and more about antioxidants. These fight off free radicals which bring about inflammation and disease.. Those bio actives found in all of the coloured vegetables and fruits that are so important in protecting us against cell damage (oxidative stress).

Super Anti-oxidant: Glutathione

What I didn’t know much about was one particular antioxidant that we make for ourselves every minute of the day (if we are lucky!).

It is called glutathione.

This super anti-oxidant is found in and used by every cell in the body (particularly the lungs). It protects the immune system and depletion can weaken the immune system, cause cell mutations plus a higher susceptibility to cancers (all shown in clinical studies).

Glutathione is made of three amino acids and we can make two  of them (glutamate and glycine) from raw materials in our food etc but we can’t make the third one (cysteine).  So we must get it directly from our food or from supplementation. 

Foods that help make glutathione

Sulphur rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, leeks, legumes, nuts and seeds—you get the drift.  Most people don’t eat lots of these but you should!

As we age glutathione reduces in the body and this decline is associated with many ageing issues as well as chronic diseases.  Most are linked to reduced immunity and increased inflammation plus cellular damage.

Foods that contain glutathione

Some foods actually contain this super antioxidant e.g. avocados, okra, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, walnuts.

Sadly, this form is not well absorbed and how you prepare and cook them has an impact too e.g. some need to be raw and I don’t fancy raw asparagus!

Other Ways to get glutathione

You can take glutathione as a supplement orally and if necessary there are also IV infusions, injections, soaps and inhalations.

My sources stress that food is best.

What Other Lifestyle Choices are important for immunity?

Lifestyle choices can and do impact this antioxidant and consequently your immunity.  These are generally the things that most people don’t want to hear about but are most important!

1 Excessive weight and obesity (Usually caused by poor diets)

There is plenty written about this topic elsewhere.  But if you control your diet properly then you should, hopefully control your weight.  Start slowly. Here is an excellent way How to start a Healthy Eating Lifestyle One Step at a Time.

2 Lack of exercise

Just a small amount of exercise a day will help to boost glutathione.

You don’t have to go to excess as that can be counter productive and reduce glutathione.

Just walk briskly for 30 minutes a day or do some stretching . Start small and build up—that is what I did.   But it is essential, no getting around it.

3 Sleep patterns

Long term lack of sleep can and does cause oxidative stress and even hormonal imbalances. Consequently it damages your immune system. In clinical trials poor sleep patterns have been shown to reduce glutathione levels.

Routine is key.

Go to bed at the same time each night as far as is possible. Get up at the same time and get light into your eyes as soon as you waken – it sets your circadian clock for the day.  Read all about the Circadian or Body Clock and How to Cheat it.

Sleep is not an inactive process. It is an extremely active time of the day – in your brain!   Ignore the importance of sleep patterns at your long term peril.

My son, Jonathan has also written about routine in Our Founder’s Morning routine.

Have a bedtime routine.

No stimulating TV, books or work. No blue light from phones or computers.  Get some glasses or over-glasses that filter the blue light and put them on 3 hours before bedtime.   Again there are books written on the subject.

4 Alcohol

If you drink it then reduce the amount.  Alcohol seems to be a revered liquid, spoken about with reverence.  There is a whole vocabulary of superlatives spoken about it. Books are written about it.

Believe me, it is a neurotoxin.  And at best it also irritates the gut, at worst it damages it and causes leaky gut syndrome. This can lead to auto-immune disease.

It impacts the brain as a depressant and it causes oxidative stress –particularly in the lungs it seems.  Alcohol can reduce glutathione by 80 to 90% (that shocked me!) as well as destroying other substances.

5 Fasting

This is a topic that I am about to learn more about, so watch this space.

I practice intermittent fasting as a way of helping to balance my own immune system. I try to eat within a 8 hour window every day but starting with 12 hours is good.

However, it seems that fasting for a day or even a week can actually reset the immune system.

Not eating for at least 4 hours before bed has certainly been shown to help the brain during sleep and enables your body to repair itself – cleaning out dead cells etc.

6 Stress

We all have to learn how to cope with the stresses of daily life. Stress is normal and the body has ways of dealing with short term stress and trauma.

Long term stress is a different matter and it will impact our immune system detrimentally.  Again a lot has been written about various practices that can help. You just have to take them on board and practice them on a daily basis.


7 Smoking and other drugs (including pharmaceutical medications)

Cigarette smoking is well known to be detrimental for the immune system. There are so many medical conditions that have tobacco as a root cause, impacting the lungs in particular.  Glutathione is a known protector of the lungs.

Any alien substance including pharmaceuticals in the body will impact cellular health in some way, so I try to avoid them but it is difficult.

8 Pollution

A huge topic and so difficult to avoid in our daily lives but we can strive to reduce the amount through our lifestyle choices. The air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the cosmetics that we rub into our skins, the chemicals in processed foods, the herbicides and pesticides on the fruits and vegetables that we buy.

Is it little wonder that we live in a society overrun with illness and disease (before coronavirus came along). We just have to work hard at reducing them as much as we can.  Even living by the sea, as I do, still has its hazards for what I breathe in to my body (sea pollution is rife) – as has living in the countryside (watch out for pesticides etc).  It isn’t only cities that are plagued!

Quality of Life is Key

So, are you prepared to look at your lifestyle choices and change a few? Here are a few Healthy Lifestyle choices you could make every day, one by one.

I am an old woman and I am not seeking greater longevity. I just want a daily quality of life so that I can do all of the things that I enjoy doing.

If I do get greater longevity than I have had so far — then fine – but I want to be able to move without pain, use my brain actively, not suffer any chronic diseases, take no pharmaceutical medications . I am sure that you get the drift!!  So far so good????

This is not a sense* article.  The views expressed in this article are those of the author so there may be opinions or statements in this article that are not approved by sense* and do not represent the views and opinions of the company.