Tips for Improving Your Immunity
At the moment, we're all concerned about COVID-19, a coronavirus-caused respiratory infection. However, your immune system is essential at all times. These healthy living tips are equally applicable when fighting off colds and flu.
How does my immune system function?
The immune system is comprised of numerous organs, cells, and proteins. It protects your body from potentially harmful substances or cell changes that could make you sick.
When your immune system detects foreign and potentially harmful microbes in your body, it goes to work immediately to combat them.
Sometimes your immune system is unable to combat these microbes, causing you to become ill. Many of your symptoms will be caused by your immune system's reaction to the invading substance(s).
The germs that are most likely to make you sick are:
- Germs that are especially potent
- Germs you have never seen before
When your body successfully fights an infection, it often remembers how to fight it, so the next time you come into contact with those germs, you won't get sick. This is true, for example, of chickenpox.
What happens if my immune system is compromised?
Some people have a weakened immune system as a result of an immunodeficiency disorder. This could be present from birth or as a result of a developed disorder, such as HIV or certain types of cancer.
Those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes are also considered immunocompromised. If you are pregnant or elderly, your immune system may be compromised.
The most common sign of a weakened immune system is an increased risk of infections, which means getting them more frequently and suffering from them more intensely.
Many immunocompromised people will already be receiving medical advice on how to protect themselves from infection. They will be aware of how to be cautious and protect themselves from infection.
If you suspect you are immunocompromised and have not yet spoken to your doctor, consult your primary care physician.
How can I strengthen my immune system?
There is no magical immune system booster that will instantly boost your defenses, but there are things you can do to protect your immune cells and potentially reduce your susceptibility to infection.
Taking care of your body and mind is the most effective way to boost immunity, and the better your immune system functions, the better your entire body functions. Health benefits can range from lower blood pressure to reduced inflammation.
1. Consume the proper foods
One of the most important things you can do for your body is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Focus on whole foods, including foods from all of the major food groups, and avoid foods that are excessively salty, fatty, sugary, or processed.
Certain foods are thought to be particularly effective at boosting immunity, but the most important thing is to eat a variety of healthy foods.
2. Provide your immune system with the nutrients it requires.
Certain nutrients are required for your immune system to function properly. These are found in fresh produce and should not be obtained through supplements.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals. This essential nutrient can be found in a variety of foods, not just citrus fruits. It can also be found in leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, strawberries, carrots, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
Another potent antioxidant that aids your body's immune system is vitamin E. It can be found in spinach, broccoli, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts.
Your immune system requires vitamin B6. This nutrient is abundant in bananas, lean poultry, tuna, and chickpeas.
One of the few things you may need a supplement for is vitamin D, though eating fatty fish (or fortified cereals and spreads) and getting enough sunlight can help.
Vitamin D helps the body regulate immune responses, so see who should take a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, is frequently found in brightly colored foods. This nutrient is abundant in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and squash.
Folate, also known as folic acid, helps our bodies create cells, so a lack can result in a weakened immune system. Get yours from legumes and peas, as well as leafy green vegetables. It's also found in some fortified foods.
Iron assists your body in transporting oxygen to cells, including white blood cells, which are essential to your immune system. It can be found in lean poultry or dark, leafy greens.
It is believed that selenium is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies' defenses. It can be found in a variety of foods, including garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, and mushrooms.
Zinc is thought to aid in the control of inflammation. Oysters, crabs, poultry, beans, and chickpeas all contain zinc.
3. Increase your physical activity.
Regular exercise can boost your immune system while also improving your sleep and lowering your stress levels, both of which have an effect on immunity.
Exercise has been shown to improve immune response even in people with compromised immune systems.
4. Manage your stress levels
Stress and anxiety can have a physical impact on our bodies, affecting our natural defenses. This is especially true if you have been stressed for a long time.
One study even discovered a link between chronic stress and autoimmune diseases.
Everyone experiences stress from time to time, so it's a good idea to develop a few stress-relieving techniques that work for you. Attempt breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
5. Get enough rest
Your immune system produces proteins called cytokines while you sleep, which fight infection and inflammation. These are also released during sleep, so not getting enough sleep may have a negative impact on your defenses.
Most adults require approximately eight hours of good quality sleep per night. Some will require more, while others will require less. If you are frequently tired throughout the day, you are most likely not getting enough sleep.
Many people consider sleep to be a luxury, but it is actually a necessity. Make a concerted effort to sleep more as it may significantly improve your immunity.
6. Maintain a healthy, happy gut
The health of your digestive tract has a significant impact on the overall health of your body, and your immune system is no exception. A healthy gut microbiome promotes strong defenses.
- Read our guide to keeping your gut happy and healthy.
7. Practice good personal hygiene.
It's all well and good to do all of the above to ensure your immune system is fighting fit, but are you taking steps to prevent germs from entering your body in the first place?
The most important is also the most basic: keep your hands clean.
Before cooking or eating, and after coughing or sneezing, wash your hands for 20 seconds (two rounds of Happy Birthday) with warm water and soap. Do the same after using the restroom or touching public surfaces.
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from the coronavirus. Don't touch your face if you've touched something outside your home and haven't washed your hands since.
Improve your immune system by researching the supplements that Livi's doctors recommend. However, if you are struggling to manage stress or break bad eating habits, you can get expert advice and support by speaking with a GP via video today.
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