Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tips to strengthen your immunity

No supplement, diet or lifestyle change can protect you 100% from any illness but it can definitely make it harder for the nasty germs and viruses to set shop in your body.

Boosting your immunity is a great way to strengthen your body’s natural defences. Here are some natural ways to get your started  

Get enough sleep —

Sleep and immunity are like two sides of the same coin. Inadequate, disturbed or low quality sleep often makes you more susceptible to sickness. Getting enough rest not only strengthens your natural immunity but it’s also like recharging your body, mind and soul for the events of the coming day. Adults should aim to get at least seven to ten hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time, avoid blue light before bed, unwind and meditate one hour before bedtime, and follow proper sleep hygiene. All this may help you fall asleep faster and ensure sounder sleep.

Eat more whole plant foods —

Eating whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes daily, will bring general health and goodness to your body. Packed with nutrients, fibre  and antioxidants, which give you the ammunition to fight off illnesses and diseases. These foods also help maintain a robust gut microbiome which is essential to keep your immunity up. Eat the rainbow- the more colourful the fruit or vegetable, the better.  Pack in as many colours to get a wide range of antioxidants and nutrients.

Eat more healthy fats —

Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and oily fish like salmon or tuna, help boost your body’s immune response by decreasing inflammation. Low grade inflammation is a normal bodily response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation suppresses your immune system. Healthy fats which are highly anti-inflammatory are great to boost your immunity.

Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement —

Fermented foods are rich in good bacteria called probiotics. This is great for maintaining a healthy gut environment. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir can be a great addition to your diet to help your gut. If you are not a fan of fermented foods, probiotic supplements are another option to get a dose of good bacteria. Fermented foods and probiotics bolster your immune system by helping it identify and target harmful viruses.

Limit added sugars and refined carbs —

Added sugars and refined carbs are slow immunity killers. They are the main culprits of being overweight and obesity which increase your risk of getting sick. Curbing your sugar intake and limiting refined carbs can decrease inflammation in your body, subsequently resulting in weight loss and an overall boost in your immune system.  

As you might have realised, a healthy diet is key to a strong immune system. Experts believe that your body absorbs vitamins more efficiently from dietary sources than supplements. This means making sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, protein and foods packed with nutritional goodness.

Engage in exercise —

Prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system but a moderate amount of  exercise is essential to give your immune system the boost it needs. Exercise reduces inflammation and helps your immune cells regenerate regularly. Brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, the elliptical machine or light yoga are some ways to keep your body active and immune system on its toes. Physical activity isn’t just for building muscles and helping yourself de-stress, it’s also an important part of being healthy.

Hydrate! Hydrate!! Hydrate!!!

Water truly is the best drink on earth! Hydration is important for your overall health.

Complications related to dehydration can increase your susceptibility to illness. To prevent dehydration, you need to drink enough a day and make sure your urine is always pale yellow to clear. Plain pure drinking water is recommended because it’s free of calories, additives, and sugar.

Cut back on booze and kick nicotine in the butt —

Alcohol is a great party starter and an essential part of how we socialise and celebrate. But too much alcohol can weaken your immune system and put you at risk for illnesses. How much is too much? Drinking everyday or getting black out drunk means you have gone way over the limit and your body needs a break as soon as possible.  

Do your immune system another favour and give up smoking. It may take you longer than expected to quit and you might even fall off the wagon a time or two but hang in there! Try and try and you will succeed.

Manage your stress levels- minimise stress —

Stress can be a good thing, it pushes you harder and out of your comfort zone. It even helps your body get ready for a challenge. But just like everything in life, too much of it is bad news. Stress weakens your body’s defence system and overall immune system. Avoid stress when you can by making it a point to unwind and do things that bring you happiness and joy. Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health.

Supplement wisely —

It’s easy to turn to supplements if you hear claims about their ability to treat or prevent diseases. But be mindful when popping these pills. Supplements do strengthen your body’s general immune system but make sure not to go overboard. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Elderberry, Echinacea and Iron are some essential levels to keep up. If you decide to supplement, make sure to purchase products that have been tested and are trusted.

The bottom line — Attitude is everything

A positive mindset is vital for healthy living. Positive thoughts can boost your immunity and increase your overall resilience while negative emotions can make you more susceptible to illnesses. Make these lifestyle and dietary changes today!

“The story we tell ourselves is crucial. Change it from ‘It’s not going to be okay,’ to beginning each day with a smile, gratitude and a positive thought or even a mantra such as — I am well, I am healed, I am blessed, I choose to be happy.”

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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