We live in a strange time, a global pandemic which has impacted all of our lives for the worse lasting for almost a year now. In these difficult times, we need to redouble our efforts to protect ourselves from the virus and to fortify ourselves in case we ever get infected. As although, our immune system cannot protect us from the novel pathogen, having a strong immune system can sustain our body as it familiarizes itself with the new virus in the event we do get sick. Aside from that; having a strong immune system generally leads to a healthy life. So here are some 5 Best Tips to Boost Your Immune System Naturally.
Immune system and sleeping are closely linked. During sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, a protein that needs to increase when your body has to fight off infection or inflammation. Furthermore, antibodies and cell that fight off infection are reduced if you do not get enough quality sleep. According to a study of healthy adults from the age range of 18 to 55, those who got loss than 6 hours of sleep were far more likely to catch a cold than those among them who got more than 6 hours of sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep strengthens your immunity. Also, in event of sickness, more sleep helps your body fight said sickness.
Adults must get 7 hours of sleep every night, teens should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep and younger children and infants must get up to 14 hours of sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, there might be several causes from dietary reasons to lifestyle choices, one of them being too much exposure to blue light emitted from your phone, TV and computer screens, as this blue light disrupts your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle. We recommend limiting screen time for an hour before bed.
Consume More Fermented Foods
Lactic Acid Fermentation occurs when in the absence of oxygen, bacteria and yeast break down sugar or starch into lactic acid. Not only does this help in food preservation, but fermented foods are also rich in digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria called probiotics. It is probiotics that help boost some immune cells, and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. So eat fermented foods to give your immune system that bit of boost. Foods like Dahi, handva, achaar and a plethora of south Indian dishes are easily accessible, fermented and as it is common with our cuisine, delicious.
Stay Away From the Common Vices
Despite their negative effects on health, smoking and drinking are two of the most common vices in the world. Whether it be E-cigarettes or the traditional kind, smoking leads to absorption of nicotine in the body which can have harmful effects on your immune system. Nicotine increases the levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, while not harmful in normal to temporarily high range, chronic elevations of cortisol can compromise the immune system’s response. Nicotine also reduces B cell antibody formation and T cells’ response to antigens. According to a study, e-cigarette vapours can harm the lungs and make them susceptible to infection. E-cigarette vapours contain free radicals, which can lead to airway inflammation and impaired responses to bacteria and viruses.
The other vice: drinking, excessive drinking just once can weaken the response of the immune system to invading pathogens. It is believed that acetaldehyde, the main metabolite in alcohol likely impairs ciliary function in the lungs, making them more susceptible to pathogen invasions. Alcohol can also weaken the process of attacking and breaking down bacteria and viruses and as a result, puts people who abuse alcohol at high risk of infections.
Try and avoid added sugars and refined carbs
Also Read–6 Health Benefits of Eating Nuts
While not directly responsible in weakening the immune system, added sugar and refined carbs are major contributors to obesity. And obesity increases your risk of getting sick. In an observational study of 1000 people, obese individuals who had gotten the flu vaccine were still twice more likely to catch the flu than individuals who weren’t obese. Limiting sugar intake can decrease inflammation and help with weight loss, reducing the risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease can all weaken your immune system, limiting added sugars will go a long way to boost your immune system.
Exercise – Not entirely unrelated to the previous point, not only does exercise help in weight loss and preventing obesity, but it is also very effective in boosting immunity. According to a study, even a single session of moderate exercise boosts the effectiveness of vaccines in immunocompromised individuals. Regular moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and help your immune system regenerate recurrently. However, prolonged intense exercise can actually hinder immune system effectiveness. So as they say, “everything in moderation”.
Protect Yourself from UV Rays
As pollutants rise and deplete the ozone layer, we are exposed to more and more ultraviolet radiation. This leads to a higher risk of skin cancer and weakened immune systems. Exposure to UV rays may even affect the cells responsible for triggering immune responses, increasing the risk of infection and possibly lowering defences against skin cancer. So protect yourself at all times, wear sunglasses, protective clothing and sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Drink Water – The importance of hydration is often emphasized but not appreciated enough, while each and every one of us do drink water, a lot of us do not drink enough. The immune system is highly reliant on the nutrients in the bloodstream and as you might be well aware, the bloodstream is mostly water.
Appropriate Nutrition – As mentioned previously, the immune system is highly reliant on nutrients in our bloodstream and while water is necessary, it is also necessary to have said nutrients in our bloodstreams. Diet and supplementation in case of deficiency are highly recommended. Nutrients identified as contributors for better Immune system are:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – We have emphasized the importance of omega-3 fatty acids on this site before, what we may have neglected to mention is that omega-3 can activate immune cells.
- Vitamin C – A popular one here, Vitamin C’s immunity-boosting properties are quite well documented.
- Vitamin D – Deficiency in this vitamin increases your likelihood of getting sick.
- Zinc – Adequate quantities of zinc in our system can reduce the duration of illness.
- Iron – Lack of this mineral in our body affects the ability to have an adequate immune response.
- Selenium – Not as well known, but equally vital, Selenium is a mineral which is crucial for our body to function. It is an antioxidant which lowers oxidative stress on our body, decreasing inflammation and enhances immunity.
- Protein – Vital for building and repairing body tissue and fights pathogens. Antibodies and immune system cells depend on protein.
Bottom line – There you are, there are several dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to boost your immunity. Although none of these will be effective in preventing COVID-19, they can reinforce your body and fight it off if you ever get infected.