The immune system is incredibly complicated and utterly vital for our survival. Several different system and cell types works in synchrony throughout the body to fight off pathogens and clear up dead cells.
So how does the immune system actually work? Our bodies make proteins called antibodies that destroy abnormal cells but the battle depends on how healthy we are, both mentally and physically. All sorts of factors can affect our immune systems, from a stressful lifestyle to a diet lacking in essential nutrients. As a result, sometimes this multi-level system fails us and a germ invades successfully.
Coronavirus is a new threat that we are facing. As such, all we can do is take care of ourselves as best we can and be open to ways to stay mentally and physically healthy.
Here are some tips to strengthen your immunity naturally.
1. FEED YOUR BODY GOOD
Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong.
2. ENOUGH SLEEP
There is a saying that you should sleep seven to eight hours but do you know why? Because enough sleep boosts your immune system, sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy bugs and germs.
In a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night. Every adult should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and the younger children and infants need up to 14 hours of sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, sleep in completely dark room or using a sleep mask and go to bed at the same time every night.
3. ENGAGE IN MODERATE EXERCISE
Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. Steady bicycling, jogging, swimming and light hiking are some example of moderate exercises. These exercises can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
4. HEALTHY FATS
Fats, those found in olive oil, salmon and chia seeds can boost our body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory, is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
5. PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS
Gut health and immunity are connected to each other. Fermented foods and probiotics may boost your immune system by helping it identify and target harmful pathogens.
Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms.
In a 3-month study in 126 children, those who drank just 2.4 ounces (70 mL) of fermented milk daily had about 20% fewer childhood infectious diseases, compared with a control group.
6. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Lowering your stress level through meditation, yoga and exercise can help keep your immune system functioning properly.
7. LOWERING SUGAR INTAKE
Added sugars contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease all of which can suppress your immune system.
According to an observational study in around 1,000 people, people with obesity who were administered the flu vaccine were twice more likely to still get the flu than individuals without obesity who received the vaccine.
Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
8. STAY HYDRATED
Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness. So, drink at least 7-8 glasses of water a day, hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.
Note: No supplements, diet or lifestyle modification aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene can protect you from developing COVID-19. The strategies above may boost your immune health.