Optimize Your Immune System With These 4 Pillars Of Health
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How To Improve Your Immune System
As of now, there is no known cure or vaccine available to fend off the Covid-19 outbreak. So all can be done is prevention and that is through proper hand hygiene and practicing Social Distancing in efforts to flatten the curve and protect ourselves.
But if that fails (god forbids), all we can do is rely on is our body’s natural ability to fight this virus while medical experts race to find a cure or vaccine. Therefore it is essential and our responsibility that we do our best to optimise our body’s immune system so it can function at its best. The stronger your immune system is, the lesser chance of you falling ill with any sorts of disease. Here are four pillars of health tips that could help build a stronger immune system for your body.
(Keep in mind, these are only tips on building immunity in general and not cures or prevention methods of coronavirus)
Get Good Sleep
Getting sufficient and good quality sleep is crucial in maintaining a healthy immune system. Studies have shown that maintaining a regular sleep schedule helps your body to recover faster and prevent susceptibility to illness.
It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Just one night of insufficient sleep alone can have a negative impact on the body’s production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies. To optimise sleep, avoid vigorous exercise, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in hours close to bedtime.
Set a time for yourself before bedtime to unwind by reading, writing a diary or taking a warm relaxing bath. Avoid scrolling through your phone or checking emails before sleep as the bluelight from your electronic gadgets or stress from work could hinder your sleep quality.
It is no brainer that maintaining a healthy diet has a great impact on our immune system. But due to our hectic work and social lifestyle (before the pandemic), it is common that many of us often forget or neglect our nutritional intake.
We should be getting a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, pre- and probiotics, and high-quality protein. While these foods will not prevent you from getting sick if exposed to the virus, a balanced diet rich in variety of vitamins and minerals is a key factor in maintaining a strong immune system to properly fight illness, potentially reducing its severity and speed up recovery.
On average, you should be eating two to three cups of fruits and veggies a day. Keep a variety of fruits and veggies in your diet as each color group has different types of antioxidants-acting polyphenols which are important for the immune system.
For example, produce high in vitamin C are bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, and broccoli. A good source of vitamin A are sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots while vitamin E are wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds and peanut butter. Fat soluble oils such as olive oil and butter are also rich in vitamins.
Zinc is responsible for activating white blood cells but our body doesn’t store zinc therefore it needs to be consumed daily. Foods like oysters, crab, lobster, pork, pumpkin, yogurt, cashews, chickpeas, and fortified cereals are high in zinc.
It is also important to have sufficient vitamin D in your body to maintain a properly functioning immune system. You can get adequate vitamin D from a combination of 15 minutes sun exposure and supplements intake as food sources with vitamin D is quite limited.
Lastly, remember to get your daily dose of pre-and probiotics from foods such as yogurt, mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Studies have shown the probiotics promote the production of natural antibodies and can optimize the body’s immune response to viral infection
If you find it difficult to meet your daily nutrients through food, you always can opt for over-the-counter multivitamins to fulfill your daily nutritional intake.
It is understandable that the majority of us will end up on our couch most of the time due to Movement Control Order. However, it is important for us to keep our body moving daily as physical activities build up our stamina and lower stress which can help optimise your immunity. Being physically active releases endorphins, your feel good hormones that kill pain and trigger positive feelings in the body.
Many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression. It is recommended for adults to have 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. You can still exercise from home using your own body weights as resistance strength training.
Times like these can be incredibly stressful for everyone as we are filled with uncertainties from economy plumbing down, the healthcare system overwhelmed and the daily increase of new coronavirus cases bombarding us. However, it is very important that we stay positive and manage our stress the healthy way and not partake in bad habits like smoking and excessive drinking as coping mechanisms.
Meditation is a very effective way to reduce feelings of stress. By just practicing mindful breathing alone for 2 to 5 minutes in the morning and evening will make a difference and help you feel centered to start your day and relaxed to fall asleep at night
As mentioned, staying physically active is very effective in relieving stress as it helps clear your mind and reduce anxiety. Keeping busy by making a schedule for yourself to maintain structure around your day allows you to feel in control and on top of your work.
Social distancing may leave us missing interpersonal relationships which are typically helpful to reduce stress. But thanks to today’s advanced technology, we can easily pick up the phone for a call or video chat with a friend or relative to stay connected.