Every now and then, even the healthiest among us fall sick. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are a number of things you can do to help boost your immune system's ability to fight off infections like the flu and the common cold.
It is a day-to-day process that demands constant attention. And it starts with the gut. The Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), which makes up 60-80% of our immune system, is found in our gut. In other words, the digestive tract houses more than half of the body's immune system, therefore ensuring the health of the gut microbiome is essential.
Let's be honest: Nobody enjoys being sick. It may have a significant impact on your personal and professional life, as well as on your emotional well-being. However, as we just experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to prevent bacterial and viral diseases, especially if you work or reside in densely crowded places.
In spite of the fact that disease is typically seen as unavoidable, are there strategies to better prepare your body for an invasion? The answer is both yes and no. There is no such thing as a “miracle immunity booster pill”, but here, we will share some advice on how you can naturally improve your immune system.Strengthen your immune system naturally
Improving your immune system is easier said than done, but there are a few dietary and lifestyle modifications you can do to enhance your body's natural defences and keep you healthy.Get plenty of rest
Sleep and immunity go hand in hand. Sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of illness. In a study conducted, sleeping less than 6 hours each night increased the risk of catching a cold compared to sleeping 6 hours or more each night.
Getting enough rest can help to boost your natural immunity. When you're unwell, you may also sleep more to help your immune system battle the infection more effectively. Adults should strive for 7 or more hours of sleep per night, while teenagers require 8–10 hours and infants require up to 14 hours.
If you're having difficulties sleeping, consider restricting your screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted by your phone, TV, and computer might interfere with your circadian rhythm or your body's normal wake-sleep cycle. In addition, practising good sleep hygiene means going to bed at the same time every night, sticking to a regular exercise routine, and sleeping in a room that is fully dark or wearing a sleep mask, if that helps.Eat more whole foods and healthy fats
Whole plant meals such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which may help you fight diseases. The antioxidants in these foods help to reduce inflammation by combating unstable chemicals known as free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they accumulate at high levels in your body. Chronic inflammation has been related to a wide variety of diseases and disorders, some of which include cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.
Your gut microbiome, often known as the colony of good bacteria that lives in your digestive tract, is fed by the fibre found in plant foods. Healthy gut flora can boost your immunity and prevent viruses from entering your body through your digestive system. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, which may help to shorten the duration of a cold.
Despite the fact that dietary fat was long shunned as a significant cause of heart disease, researchers have discovered that it can have some advantages. However, full-fat foods may provide benefits over low-fat or fat-free alternatives. They are often less processed and contain fewer sugar and carbohydrates.
Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, and chia seeds can help your body fight infections by reducing inflammation. Olive oil's anti-inflammatory properties have been related to a lower incidence of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory characteristics may aid your body in fighting harmful bacteria and viruses that cause sickness.
Here are some common food categories that will help build your immunity:
Vegetables and fruits
- Greens with leaves (lettuce, kale, spinach and Swiss chard)
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower)
- Citrus Fruits like grapefruit and oranges
- Berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)
- Whole Wheat Barley
- Rice (brown)
- Beans (legumes, lentils and peas)
- Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
Rather than butter and other high-saturated and trans-fat oils, cook using olive or canola oil. Also, don't be scared to use herbs and spices. Inflammation can be reduced by using herbs like basil, cinnamon, curry, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.Take Probiotics
Probiotics are vital for keeping the gut biome and bacteria in check. These bacteria can help with immune health, among other things (digestion, allergy reduction, and heart health). They can be found in fermented dairy products like Greek yoghurt and foods like kimchi and sourdough bread.
Probiotic supplements are also an alternative if you don't eat fermented foods on a regular basis.Exercise
In addition to building muscle and relieving stress, physical activity is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy body and a strong immune system.
One of the ways in which exercise can help improve immune function is by increasing general circulation. This, in turn, makes it simpler for immune cells and other infection-fighting chemicals to move around the body and fight infections more effectively.
You can boost your immune system by engaging in moderate to intense exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day, according to research. This indicates that it is essential to place an emphasis on maintaining an active lifestyle and making time for regular exercise.Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Water plays various important roles in the body, including immune system support.
Lymph, a fluid in your circulatory system that transports essential infection-fighting immune cells across your body, is mostly water. Dehydration causes the lymph to travel more slowly, which can contribute to immune system problems.
Even if you aren't exercising or sweating, you are constantly losing water through your breath, urine, and bowel motions. You need to make sure that you are replenishing the water that you lose with water that you can utilise, and the first step toward doing this is determining how much water you should be drinking each day and making sure you reach that goal.Manage Stress Levels
Understanding how stress impacts your health, including your immune system, is critical, whether it comes on suddenly or builds up over time.
When you're under a lot of stress, especially chronic stress, your body responds by launching a "stress reaction." It is designed to assist you in dealing with the difficult situations that are heading in your direction. Unfortunately, this response also has the effect of suppressing your immune system, which increases the likelihood that you may become ill from an infection or other ailments.
Everyone's stress levels and coping mechanisms are unique. It's critical to understand how to recognise stress because of the negative impact it can have on your health. You should also familiarise yourself with the practises that can help you relieve stress, such as practising deep breathing, meditating, praying, journaling, engaging in physical activity or seeking professional help.One last thought
Making the decision to lead a healthy lifestyle should be your first line of protection. The single most important thing you can do to keep your immune system functioning effectively in a natural way is to make sure you are following these general rules for good health. When you're protected from environmental threats and strengthened by healthy-living practises, every component of your body, including your immune system, works better.