5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Immune System
The immune system is your body’s natural defence against infections and illnesses. Supporting it should be a top priority for everyone. Read on for five simple ways to keep your immune system in check.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Before discussing ways to boost the immune system, it’s essential to understand how it works.
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect your body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others.
Its primary function is to identify and eliminate these foreign substances to maintain the health and integrity of your body. The immune system also helps control inflammation, working to heal and repair damaged tissues.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
The health of your immune system can be greatly affected by what you eat.
Certain vitamins and minerals are known to be immune system supporters. For instance, vitamin C, found in fruits like oranges and vegetables like broccoli, is famous for enhancing immune function.
Vitamin D, which we can get from sunlight and fortified foods, helps fine-tune our immune response, while zinc, found in foods like lean meats and nuts, is crucial for the development and function of immune cells.
Antioxidants like beta-carotene (in carrots and sweet potatoes), vitamin E (in nuts and seeds), and selenium (in Brazil nuts and whole grains) shield immune cells from free radical damage and promote their proper function.
2. Prioritise Sleep
The importance of sleep extends beyond feeling rested and refreshed. During deep sleep stages, the body releases cytokines, which are proteins that help regulate immune responses. These cytokines play a crucial role in coordinating the body’s defence against infections.
To improve your sleep routine:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day: Your body has an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm that regulates sleep-wake cycles. When you maintain a consistent sleep schedule, you synchronise your circadian rhythm with external cues like natural daylight and darkness. This alignment helps your body know when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to wind down for sleep, allowing you to fall asleep faster and enjoy more restorative, uninterrupted sleep cycles.
- Switch off: Before going to bed, do something relaxing like reading, light stretching, or deep breathing exercises. Reduce screen usage by at least an hour before going to bed as screen light can interfere with the generation of melatonin, a hormone that governs sleep.
- Create a comfortable sleep space: Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet and remember a good night’s sleep requires a comfy mattress and pillows.
3. Stay Active
Exercise helps improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and increase the production of antibodies and white blood cells. You don’t need to become a marathon runner to reap the immune-boosting benefits of exercise. Even moderate activities like brisk walking, cycling, or yoga can significantly affect your overall health.
4. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can weaken your immune system over time, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Finding effective ways to manage stress is essential for immune health. Here are some stress-reduction techniques you can try:
- Connect with others: Spending time with friends and loved ones can provide emotional support and reduce stress.
- Consider relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and aromatherapy can help lower stress levels.
- Seek professional help if needed: If you’re struggling to manage stress on your own, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist or counsellor.
5. Stay Hydrated
Water helps transport nutrients and oxygen to your cells and flushes out toxins from your body. Aim to drink at least six to eight cups of water per day, and more if you’re physically active or in hot weather.
Boosting your immune system doesn’t require drastic changes to your lifestyle. By following these five simple steps, you can support your immune system’s ability to defend your body against infections and illnesses. Remember that consistency is critical, and making these practices a part of your daily routine will contribute to a healthier and stronger immune system in the long run.
Contact the Medical Society for helpful advice on which healthcare plan is best suited to you and your family, and more useful tips on how to boost your immune system.