5 Easy Ways To Boost Your Immune System
Immunity is the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases. Our bodies have a naturally acquired immunity from birth that is further strengthened by external factors such as diet, exposure to microbes, and vaccines. Unfortunately, the immune system can also weaken due to age, lifestyle, certain infections or some environmental factors.
A compromised or weakened immune system leaves your body vulnerable to infections that would otherwise not be a problem. Some severe immunodeficiency cases can even result in serious health disorders and physical symptoms. But even without any signs of poor immunity, it’s still important to maintain good immune health. Here are five science-backed ways to naturally boost your immune system:
Eat a well-balanced diet
Sticking to a balanced, healthy diet provides your immune system with enough energy and essential micronutrients to function properly. A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. Consider taking lots of probiotics – live microorganisms known to boost immunity. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, natto and kefir are rich in probiotics. It also helps to enrich your diet with immune-boosting supplements, herbs and multivitamins to fill in the nutrient gaps in regular meals.
Water plays an important role in your body, especially in supporting the immune system. The lymphatic circulatory system transports lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting blood cells, throughout the body. When the body gets dehydrated, the water-based lymph movement slows down, leading to a weakened immune system. Plus, water helps the body absorb essential minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients to support a healthy immune system.
Engage in regular physical exercise
Regular physical exercise is one of the hallmarks of healthy living. Like a nutritious diet, exercise contributes to the body's general health and well-being, keeping the immune system strong. More specifically, exercising promotes immunity by improving cardiovascular health, controlling body weight and averting various diseases.
A recent study found that intense exercise may positively affect the number of infection-fighting cells in the blood and their movement within the body. This new research debunks the old myth that prolonged, rigorous exercise lowers the body’s immunity.
Physical, mental and emotional health are intertwined. Although scientists are yet to understand the mind-body relationship, it’s clear that prolonged stress disorders such as anxiety and depression can take a physical toll on the body and its immune system. Stress is sometimes tied to adverse health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and eating disorders that weaken the body's defences against infections.
Manage your stress levels by engaging in mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, socialising and self-care. Also, try to avoid stressful situations and seek professional help whenever things get out of hand.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is a crucial regenerative process. Although you never realise it, there is a lot that goes on in your body as you sleep. For instance, T cells, components of the adaptive immune system, are produced during sleep, and at the same time, inflammatory cells (cytokines) are suppressed. Studies have found direct correlations between the sleep-wake cycle and various immune functions.
Ideally, you should get eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. It’s hard to imagine that a good night’s sleep makes you less susceptible to falling ill – but it does.
Much like your general wellness, your immunity’s strength largely depends on your lifestyle choices and eating habits. A rich, healthy diet, minimal stress and a bit of self-care might be all you need to boost your immunity. And remember to stay away from nicotine, processed sugars, alcohol and high-fat foods.