The immune system is your first line of defense against certain illnesses and viruses. Imagine it as a barrier, or a shield that protects you from harmful diseases. The benefits of a strong immune system mean you get to fend off illnesses that sometimes other people can’t because they’re weak, and in the worst cases, you can survive sickness that may cause death.
Various layers of protection from mucus to blood cells are the foundation of your immune system. It’s your job however to keep your immunity working in top shape. Eating fruits and vegetables, hydration, enough sleep, exercise, and proper hygiene can significantly boost one’s immune system.
Simple Yet Effective Ways to Boost Your Immune System
- Getting ample sleep
Adults need at least seven hours of sleep to improve health and boost the immune system. Teenagers need nine to ten hours of sleep while children need ten or more hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can drastically affect your immune system. Studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep, you will get easily infected by viruses. Your recovery from sickness is also linked to sleep.
When you sleep, your immune system releases proteins that defend against infections. These proteins are called cytokines. When you deprive yourself of sleep, the production of these proteins are also reduced. When you consistently lack sleep, you are at risk for various conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and even diabetes.
- Plant-based foods
A good way to improve one’s health is by having a well-balanced diet. It involves eating vegetables and fruits which are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can boost your immune system. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and lemon.
This particular vitamin is well known to combat colds and flu. Vitamin C helps in the production of white blood cells that are the key to fighting infections. Other nutrients are known to play a big part in boosting the immune system such as antioxidants, zinc, and Vitamin D.
- Healthy fats and meat
Similar to vegetables and fruits, proteins, and nutrients from meat can also be a good source to boost your immune system. Did you know that a steak provides zinc, vitamin B6, and selenium more than your recommended dietary allowance? This increases your susceptibility to colds and other illnesses.
Fatty acids increase the number of T-cells, white blood cells that are responsible for fighting off pathogens. T-cells are important to your immune system because they find cellular abnormalities, kill cells infected by bacteria, activate immunity cells, and protect your body against autoimmune diseases. Fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids are good for your health.
Probiotics are live good bacteria that help maintain digestive health and boost the immune system. This can be consumed through supplements and fermented foods. It inhibits the growth of harmful gut bacteria. According to some studies, though the evidence is not high, probiotics can reduce respiratory infections. Yogurt is a delightful treat that contains probiotics.
Fermented vegetables such as pickles or sauerkraut is also a good source of good bacteria. There are even probiotic drinks readily available if you’re on the go. Make sure you have your daily probiotics in you for better digestion and good health.
To boost the immune system, you also need to be physically fit. White blood cells can be sedentary. Regular exercise mobilizes your white blood cells by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their job. You can strengthen your lungs and increase your susceptibility to respiratory illnesses by cardio exercises. Simple jogging or even walking every day can have a good overall effect on your health.
Exercise can also help your sleeping and eating habits. When you exercise, your body will need fuel(food), it will also need rest(to repair muscles).
Your daily workout routine can fix your appetite or lack thereof, it can also help you if you have trouble sleeping because your body will crave for rest after an exercise. Coupled with proper diet, probiotics, and hydration, your body will achieve optimum immunization.
Our body needs fluids to function properly. This is especially true when you’re sick from fever, diarrhea, or flu that can easily dehydrate you. Proper rehydration helps your body recover quickly from these illnesses.
As mentioned earlier, mucus is one of the protective layers against viruses. Healthy hydration can help your nose maintain the mucous membrane. Drinks with electrolytes have been recommended all over the world for virus-related dehydration.
Make it a habit to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and gulp down drinks with electrolytes when you exercise to replenish lost body fluids.
- Washing hands, overall personal hygiene
Avoiding illness is associated with personal hygiene and believe it or not, it’s as simple as washing your hands. We get infected by viruses and germs if we touch something and place our hands on our face, our eyes or worst, put it in our mouth. You have to be diligent in washing your hands as this can either keep you healthy or sick.
You just need 20 seconds to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This can already improve your chances of avoiding germs and viruses.
- Relieving stress
Stress can mount up and can cause your body to get weak. And when your constitution is weak, you’re susceptible to sickness. Make sure you get enough rest to alleviate stress. Meditation can also help mitigate stress. Simple breathing exercises in the morning is beneficial to your health and can lower the risk of respiratory diseases.
Watch out for:
Alcohol intake is said to be good for one’s body if taken in moderation. A sip of wine daily can reduce certain heart-related illnesses and can help reduce the risk of stroke. You have to, however, take this in moderation as with anything else.
There are no benefits in smoking and this can lead to various diseases such as lung, throat cancer, trigger asthma, and emphysema. If you’re a smoker, it’s prudent to stop gradually. Seek medical intervention if needed.
- Excessive Sugar
As mentioned, anything in excess is bad for your health and always consider doing or taking things in moderation. Taking sodas and foods that are dangerously high on sugar can be detrimental to your health and lower your immune system.
Always be mindful of what you put in your body. Instead of candy bars, eat fruits. Substitute soda with lime water that’s high on Vitamin C.
Vitamins and Supplements
There are various supplements that can boost your immune system. You can also get that boost from simple and organic food such as berries and garlic. Garlic has been used as a food ingredient and for medicine for centuries. It has a wide variety of health benefits.
There are many compounds in garlic that can help your immune system and fight against germs. Berries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can lessen inflammation and stress. Similar to berries, Echinacea(a flower plant in the daisy family) is loaded with antioxidants.
Extracts of Echinacea are used as tablets(supplements) or teas as herbal remedies. To boost your health, you need to take fruits like oranges, guava, tomatoes, and lemon that are rich in Vitamin C. You also need to couple it with fatty fish like tuna and salmon for Vitamin D and Zinc.
As the threat of COVID-19 is on the rise, we should equip and boost our immune system. Studies show that a healthy body is more likely to survive a pandemic and threats of virus compared to a weak body. The reason why the United States of America felt the deadly effects of COVID-19 was due to their population being unhealthy- high count of obesity.
Now is the time to be fit and boost your immune system. Exercise daily and eat healthy. And remember to wash your hands.