Health and well-being is a huge topic nowadays. Especially in the last three years since Covid-19 has struck (yes, it’s been three… we checked). If Google had a list of trending search words, it would probably read something like: #covid #doIhavecovid #covidsymptoms #FFP2 #masks #immunityboosters #vitaminshopnearme
Now that it’s cold and flu season, it’s even worse. People are traipsing in and out of a pharmacy like it’s the newest club in town, half your office is coughing, and getting to work without having someone sneeze in your face is akin to striking the lottery. Unfortunately for us, boosting your immune system isn’t as simple as taking a daily Vitamin C tablet. There are many aspects of your life that you need to take care of, to ensure you keep healthy and fit. Read on and find out more!
Just what is the immune system?
To make sure we are all on the same page, first, you need to understand what your immune system is. And as cliché as it might sound, it’s complicated. To be precise, it’s a complicated network of cells, tissues, organs and all other substances they produce to help your body fight off diseases and other infections. This includes white blood cells, organs and tissues from the lymph system such as bone marrow, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, thymus, spleen and tonsils (now you understand why it’s not as simple as popping pills everyday).
This leads us to the bigger question: what can you do to strengthen your immune system?
6 Tips to Boost Your Immune System
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your immune system. Here are 6 easy ways you can improve your immune function, beginning with…
1. Eat Healthily
You are what you eat. If you’re not sure what foods strengthen the immune system, the general rule of thumb is to eat more whole foods and less processed foods. A healthy diet consists of a huge variety of vitamins and nutrients – all the stuff you need for a strong immune system. On the contrary, processed food and foods high in sugar can lead to poor gut health and many other health problems such as diabetes and heart diseases. If you have options to choose from, go whole or go home.
We cannot stress this enough but there’s a reason why, as children, we were taught to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Dehydration can lead to several complications, such as seizures, as well as urinary and kidney problems. If you’re not a fan of the taste of water, you might want to consider flavouring it with a tiny amount of fruit-based syrup or one of our Microdrinks, for convenience. If it’s simply a matter of forgetting to drink, it might help to station water carafes or jugs around the apartment so they are in constant sight. Alternatively, you can also enlist the help of hydration apps to send you reminders when you haven’t drunk enough for the day.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is extremely beneficial to the immune system in many ways. When you exercise, bacteria is cleared out of your airways as your breathing and blood flow is increased – this significantly lowers the odds of you falling sick. When you exercise regularly, you also reduce inflammation in your body, and this allows your immune system to work better. Most importantly, immune cells circulate better during exercise and this lets them carry out their role more effectively.
Bonus: exercising frequently also helps to lower stress hormones and release endorphins so you feel happier after! If you’re struggling to last through a workout, an electrolyte drink might be just what you need to help perk you up.
4. Get enough sleep
Time to channel your inner Sleeping Beauty. You don’t really need a reason to enjoy a good lie-in, but here’s one anyway: sleeping helps improve your immune cells. These cells then help to fight virus-infected cells such as flu and cancer, so if you’re still not convinced about the importance of having a strong immune system, think again.
When you’re frequently sleep-deprived, your immune system’s ability to remember infectious attacks decreases. This makes you more susceptible to common viruses such as flu and cold, which is the last thing you need in winter.
5. Avoid alcohol and smoking
This seems almost rudimentary to mention, but avoiding alcohol and smoking makes your lifestyle significantly healthier. Frequent alcohol consumption may cause long-term health risks such as high blood pressure, cancer and a weakened immune system. Smoking in particular, is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and harms the immune system, increasing the risk for immune and autoimmune disorders.
6. Manage stress
Elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol can weaken your immune system over time. Stress is also damaging to your cells and may trigger immune responses, so if you’re finding yourself exceptionally irritable or sleepy, it may be time to keep your stress levels in check. As mentioned earlier, exercising is great for reducing stress, so if you have a particular sport or a class you’ve been meaning to try out, the universe is sending you a sign to go for it!
For those who are already fitness junkies, studies have also shown that physical contact helps reduce cortisol, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your partner for a hug or two if you’re having a stressful day – it’s the little things that count the most.
In conclusion, strengthening your immune system is a matter of making conscious choices and living a healthy lifestyle. Be it downloading an app to remind you to drink more, making the choice to eat healthier, or exercising regularly to keep your stress hormones at bay, there are many steps you can take to gradually improve your immune function – start by choosing one to work on and the rest will follow in time. To immunity, and beyond!