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Published: 17th August 2020
Your body’s immune system is a very complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. It keeps a record of every single microbial infection that you encounter in its white blood cells and cleverly remembers how to fight it off should you encounter it again.
Although the odd few germs may get through and make you sick, the immune system tends to do a pretty great job at keeping you safe from infection!
Some people’s immune systems are more effective than others. This could be down to a number of reasons, from smoking, drinking alcohol and other lifestyle choices, to immune system disorders caused by birth defects or certain diseases. Certain medications cause a weakened immune system too, which will be made clear to you when you are prescribed any drugs that this applies to.
One of the first things you can do to improve your immunity is to change your lifestyle. This includes not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, drinking less or no alcohol, improving your sleeping quality and minimising stress. Happy life equals happy body. Here are some of the things you can do to boost your immune system.
A good night’s sleep and your body’s level of immunity are very closely linked. Poor sleep quality is often attributed to susceptibility to sickness. One study of 164 healthy adults showed that those who slept for less than six hours per night were much more likely to catch a cold than those who slept for longer.
It’s recommended that adults get around seven hours of sleep per night, which gives your body enough time to be properly rested and helps your immune system recuperate sufficiently.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are extremely rich in nutrients and antioxidants and are known as “whole plants”. The antioxidants in these foods will give you an upper hand at defending yourself against harmful pathogens, as well as assisting in reducing inflammation. They are also usually very rich in vitamin C, which should help the immune system to fight off and reduce the duration of common colds and similar infections.
Cutting back on your sugar intake can have a huge impact on weight loss results and can reduce your risk of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, both of which can have a negative impact on your immune system. You should try to limit your sugar intake as much as possible limiting it to only 5% of your calorie intake and opting for sugar free alternatives wherever possible.
Intense amounts of exercise can supress your immune system but exercising little and often can give you a boost. Regular exercise is said to help reduce inflammation and aid new cell production, which in turn helps your body’s ability to fight off disease and infection. This can be achieved by walking, swimming, hiking and biking regularly.
Staying well-watered isn’t enough to keep you protected from germs, but it will improve your overall health.
Dehydration can cause headaches, mood swings and decreased mental and physical ability, which will all contribute towards increasing your susceptibility to illness. It’s important to try and reduce your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea though as these contain high levels of sugar.
Most people get through enough water a day by drinking when they feel thirsty, but as a general rule, try to drink up to eight pints of water a day, drinking if you feel like you need to and stopping when you no longer feel thirsty.
Long-term stress can cause inflammation, which can have a bad impact on your health. For children in particular, prolonged stress can cause a suppressed immune system.
You can reduce your stress levels by practising meditation and yoga, writing a journal and taking part in all sorts of other mindful activities that you enjoy. If your stress is severe, you should consider speaking to a therapist about your issues.
Here’s a useful link for local help groups and support networks:
So, whether you’re making small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, or having a complete lifestyle re-haul, these steps should leave you feeling much better equipped to fight off any illness you might encounter.