Updated: May 10, 2020
'The real question is, what can we do to boost our immune systems to prevent us from catching colds and viruses?
The reality is, our immune systems already do a wonderful job in trying to protect us from all sorts. Ultimately, it's a system built by nature and devised to function well when aided with balance, peace and harmony. However due to the busy, hectic, stressful lifestyles that we lead these days, inevitably our immune systems will fail every so often.
So what can we do to help prevent this from happening? and if it does, how can we strengthen our immune systems in order to help us to recover as quickly as possible?
Here are 5 simple ways to strengthen our immune systems if we commit to the cause and take action now.
1. Choose a Healthy Lifestyle -
Everything within the body functions much better when the body is nourished properly and protected from environmental assaults. The first step towards this process would be in choosing to eat a balanced diet, highly consisting of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains such as rice, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, bulgar wheat, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. As well as wholefoods such as fish, lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs.
The objective is to minimise processed foods, sugars... basically anything that isn't closest to its natural form and opting instead for nutritious foods packed with antioxidants, high levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre as nature intended.
2. Exercise Regularly -
Improving physical strength and cardiovascular health by training regularly and/or exercising to stay active is paramount in helping to lower blood pressure, control body weight and help to prevent diseases. In addition to that, regular exercise helps to promote good circulation which allows cells and most substances relating to the immune system, to move through the body more freely and efficiently, giving the immune system a great chance in being able to do its job effectively.
3. Minimise Stress -
Undoubtedly, psychological stress is one of the body's biggest enemies. In a nutshell, when we are stressed, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol as a protectant to help to control its effect. The effects of cortisol will at first, help to control inflammation within the body by boosting immunity, however when we continuously take on too much stress, more cortisol is released which then shifts into having a complete negative/reverse effect.
Weight gain? Feeling puffy and bloated? Irritable and feeling low? Difficulty concentrating? Muscle weakness? These are some of the symptoms relating to increased cortisol levels due to stress.
So how can we manage our stress levels?
Incorporate stress reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, going for walks, swimming, attending mindset workshops or talking to friends and family to share your worries. Also consider working with a reputable mindset/wellness practitioner or life coach who will be able to help you with specific life relating issues. Both act as intermediaries in helping you to see things from a different perspective which may be able to help. However, with deeper rooted issues where a diagnosis and treatment needs to be put in place, then a licensed professional qualified therapist will be able to help you.
4. Don't Smoke -
The truth is simple. Smoking damages the body's immune system by destroying antibodies which are used to fight off infectious illnesses. Smokers have fewer antibodies which make them susceptible to more severe infections and/or take longer to recover from illnesses. Smoking also destroys antioxidants such as vitamin c, which help kill free radicals, or cells responsible for causing cancer.
The bottom line is, smoking increases the risk of developing respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia whilst destroying delicate lung tissue. Viruses such as the Flu and most recently Covid-19, directly affect the respiratory system and will place you at a higher risk in facing a prolonged recovery than of non smokers.
5. Sleep -
Absolutely essential when it comes to health and wellbeing in allowing the body to repair itself, to strengthen its immune response, detect and destroy germs, redistribute energy resources, creating new cells and getting rid of old ones that are no longer needed. Whilst we are sleeping, our bodies continue to work hard in order to keep us healthy and balanced.
Striving for a minimum of 7 hours can be challenging for some but without a doubt, proper sleep is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle and isn't to be taken for granted.