Even the healthiest of all people get sick every now and then. But if you fine-tune certain aspects of your health and daily life routine, you can fight against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that affect your immune system.
How Does the Immune System Work?
The natural defence system of our body is known as the immune system. It plays an important role in protecting our body from harmful substances, germs and cell changes that could make us ill. Made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs, the immune system works together to protect our body. You won’t notice or give proper care to your immune system as long as it runs smoothly. But, once it starts getting weak or reach a point where your body cant fight aggressive germs, you get ill. Some germs will only make you sick the first time you come into contact with them. These include diseases such as chickenpox.
The immune system is activated by an antigen, something that our body doesn’t recognize as its own. Once the antigens attach to special receptors on the immune system cells, many processes get triggered into our body. When the human body comes in contact with a disease-causing germ for the very first time, it stores the information about how to fight the germ. Later, when our body happens to come into contact with the same germ the second time, our body recognizes it and fights faster.
Ways to Keep Your Immune System Healthy
While there is no magic “healthy pills,” there are certain ways to take your immunity superpowers up a notch. These six steps can boost your immune system the way you have never imagined.
1. Keep stress under control
Long-term stress affects your immunity in a vital way. It chronically elevates the steroid hormone cortisol. Our body depends on hormones like cortisol when it goes into a “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol plays the role of preventing the immune system from responding before a stressful event. When cortisol levels are in a higher state, it blocks our immune system doing its job to protect our body against potential threats from viruses and bacteria.
To reduce stress, practice yoga, meditation, journaling, or do any activity that you enjoy the most. Try doing at least one activity every day.
2. Get enough sleep
When we sleep, our body produces and distributes key immune cells such as cytokines, T-cells, and interleukin 12 . If you fail to get quality sleep, then your immune system may not be able to do these processes well. This makes it less able to defend your body against harmful invaders and makes you more likely to get sick. Lack of sleep also elevates cortisol levels, which is not good for the immune function.
An adult should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night to optimize health. In order to get a better night’s sleep, follow good sleep hygiene habits such as turning off the electronics two to three hours before you go to bed.
3. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for your overall health. When you are dehydrated, you get headaches, and this very well hinders your mood, physical performance, focus, digestion, and many more. These complications increase your susceptibility to illness.
Drink enough fluid every day to stay hydrated. When it comes to fluid, normal water is recommended because it is free of calories, sugar, and additives.
4. Follow the perfect immune diet
The nutrients you get from food mainly, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices are essential to keep your immune system function properly. Most of these food have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which help us fight off infection and other diseases. Include Vitamin C rich food, Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and fermented food in your diet to keep your immune system functional and healthy.
5. Exercise daily
Daily exercise reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Exercising also increases the release of the hormone known as endorphins, that reduces pain and create feelings of pleasure. This serves as a great way to manage stress.
6. Quit smoking
Cigarette smoking affects overall immune health. Carbon monoxide, nicotine, cadmium, and nitrogen oxides are the chemicals released by the cigarette smoke. They interfere with the growth and proper functioning of the immune cells. If you are suffering from any viral and bacterial infections (especially those of the lungs), post-surgical infections, and rheumatoid arthritis, smoking worsens it.
Say a big no to smoking. There are many resources available right now to help you kick out this habit, such as- counselling, behavioural therapy, and nicotine replacement products.
5 Foods to Boost your Immunity
Incorporating the below-listed foods into the diet can strengthen your immune response.
There are lots of nutrients present in this “superfood.” Folate is one among them. This helps your body in making new cells and repair DNA. It is rich in fibres, antioxidants such as vitamin C, and many more. To get the most benefit, have lightly cooked or raw spinach.
The zinc present in oyster has virus-fighting powers. This is because zinc helps in creating and activating the white blood cells involved in the immune response. It also assists your immune system in healing wounds.
Sweet Potatoes are rich in beta carotene and vitamin A. The antioxidants present in this food benefits not only your immune system, but also your heart, vision, and teeth. Add sweet potatoes to your diet as it is one of the high fiber foods and regular fiber intake associates with improved mood and memory.
This particular veggie is supercharged with nutrients that protect your body from damage. One cup of raw broccoli gives a full day’s worth of Vitamin C. It also provides vitamin A and the antioxidant glutathione, which are important for the immune system.
There is no flavour in this world as ginger as it gives you a spicy kick with its sweet and peppery bite. Hang on, there is more. This knobby root serves as a rich source of antioxidants. Since ginger has antibacterial properties, it helps to support and improve immune system. It can prevent nausea and soothe your stomach.
Our immune system is the crucial defence line between us and the harmful viruses or bacteria. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet, full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and quality protein. Sleep more, stress less and prioritize your health.
If you find yourself frequently fighting illnesses, it’s worth talking to a doctor.