An Overview of Easy Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System
Most people know that having a healthy, balanced immune system is key in helping to prevent us from getting sick. With a good chunk of the global population currently self-isolating amidst the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, it is vital that we take extra care of ourselves.
The world might seem a bit surreal right now but staying calm, cool, and collected in times like this can really help you navigate the situations ahead with more clarity and decisiveness, to control what we can control.
One important area we can address is our health and well-being in which there are several easy ways to naturally improve our immune systems to stay healthy, 5 of the best tips are detailed below.
1. Eat The Right Foods
Up until recently most of us have been living in an age of eating overly processed foods, easy takeaways and due to working long hours often eating at the wrong times, throwing our body clock off. It is no surprise then that many people aren’t actually eating enough of the right kinds of food to help their immune system to stay strong.
Antioxidants are important, they protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and
can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body. Make sure you are eating foods rich in Betacarotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E where possible. These include veggies such as kale, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, and fruits such as strawberries, melon, kiwi and tomatoes and sweet bell peppers. To get your Vitamin E dose, then look to include nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter. Sunflower seeds and oils such as wheat germ are also excellent sources of vitamin E. Adding garlic, ginger and turmeric to your diet is also beneficial due to their ability to enhance the immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids from foods like oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna and salmon are a type of essential fatty acid known to help keep the immune system in check. Other sources of Omega-3 include Hemp seed oil, chia and flax seeds, seaweed, and wild rice. In 2013 a scientific study showed that Zinc also helps the body’s immune system fight infection, so consuming more whole-grains, cereals, poultry, red meat, dairy products, legumes and Tofu will also help get more zinc into your diet.
Of course, in these current times, some foods are proving easier to get hold of than others so there are of course some excellent food supplements on the market for those who feel they aren’t getting enough vitamins naturally from their daily food intake.
Although there are some people out there who swear they get by on only 4 hours of sleep a night, for most people 7-8 hours a night is highly recommended. You know how rubbish you feel if you’ve burned the candle at both ends, so it stands to reason that a regular good night's kip is needed to keep us protected. Our bodies make and release a type of protein when we sleep called cytokines that targets inflammation and infection. The Sleep Foundation says getting ample shut-eye is hugely important in making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition.
If you have trouble sleeping then some good tips include, making sure you are getting an adequate amount of vitamin D from spending time in sunlight as it’s important in helping our bodies establish a natural rhythm, Reducing caffeine intake (ideally restricting it to the daytime only) and limiting exposure to blue light from devices like smartphones and laptops which will trick your body into thinking that it’s daytime. Ideally, experts suggest you should stop using tech devices at least 2 hours before bedtime to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, so if you are glued to your phone every night, why not try swapping it for some meditation or reading a good book instead to help you off to the land of nod. If you feel like you need to look at your phone, laptop or watch tv late then we recommend getting some blue light blocker glasses (ideally red-tinted glasses) to reduce the negative effects.
3. Try To Reduce Stress
It might be easier said than done but finding ways to manage and reduce stress really does have a positive impact on the body and immune system. Chronic stress is linked to numerous health issues so techniques such as practising meditation, mindfulness and gratitude might sound a bit “out there” but have been proven to have a positive effect and reduce cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) in the brain. There are loads of awesome free apps out there so check out your app store to get you started. When practised over time, techniques like meditation for even just 10 minutes a day have a calming effect on not only the mind but an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which helps to protect the immune system and keep you healthy.
Regular exercise is also a key part of staying healthy, it doesn’t really matter what exercise you do, just find something that you enjoy as you will be more likely to stick at it. Practices such as yoga and Tai Chi are also reputed to have a strong effect on the immune system and are excellent for practising controlled breathing and reducing anxiety.
Immersing yourself in nature and taking time to really appreciate the beauty around us is also a proven way of finding some inner peace and getting some perspective so we don’t sweat the small stuff. Try and think of 5 things every day that you are grateful for or appreciative of, you’ll be surprised how rewarding it is.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water might sound like the easiest one on the list but you’d be surprised how many of us don’t actually consume enough of the clear stuff. Making sure your body is properly hydrated is again, another top tip for fighting nasties. Water plays a critical role for nearly every process in the body, it helps the blood transport oxygen to immune cells to keep them functioning at their best and helps to remove toxins which would otherwise mess with your immune system.
Replacing lost water and electrolytes (especially after exercise) is important to stave off dehydration and feeling sluggish, a natural source of electrolytes that you can incorporate into your body's temple include coconut water, milk and smoothies incorporating fruit like bananas, seeds, etc. Be mindful of thinking that other drinks are keeping your water levels topped up as if they are high in sugar, alcohol, etc then they are actually causing your body to have to use more water to process them.
5. Wash Those Hands
I know, I know, you’ve never had so many people reminding you to wash your hands before! For most of us, we would question who on earth doesn’t wash their hands? The reality of it is that most of us don’t wash our hands enough or perhaps in the right way. The simple act of washing your hands helps to prevent the spread of germs (like bacteria and viruses) that can cause us to become ill and hit our immune system.
It’s pretty hard to avoid germs, they can be anywhere, people touch things all the time, door handles, lift buttons, phones, laptops, etc and then they go and touch their face….just like you might have been compelled to do then. Washing your hands frequently with good old soap and hot water is the best way to fight infection. If of course, soap and water are not to hand then alternatives like hand sanitizer will do the trick.
So, there you have it- 5 Easy ways to improve your immune system.