As winter carries on we can start to tire of the grey skies, freezing temperatures and too many hours spent indoors. These factors and the increase of viruses circling can have an impact on our physical health and make us more prone to getting sick. Your immune system is the body’s defense against invading bacteria, virus and other germs. The different systems of your body all work together to support the immune system and protect you from getting sick. I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to get sick!
Here are my top 7 ways to keep your immune system running at 100%:
Eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins will provide your body and it’s systems with the required vitamins and minerals it needs to do its job properly. The key is variety.
Incorporating regular, moderate exercise can improve your overall health including immunity. As every person is different and has different history of physical activity it is important to choose the right type and intensity to maximize immune system function. Those that train at a high level (training for long-durance foot or bike race) can actually experience a decrease in immune function for a period of a few days post workout due to the release of certain hormones. If you are new to working out or starting a new type of physical activity it is always best to consult your doctor first.
There is no magic number for hours of sleep but you know yourself pretty well and how much sleep you need to feel well and rested. Insufficient sleep can make us more prone to colds and flu. When we get enough sleep the cells and proteins that make up our immune system keep viruses at bay decreasing the risk of developing infection. If you have trouble sleeping try setting yourself up with good sleep habits; going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time. Ensure your environment is conducive to sleep and that you avoid screens right before bedtime.
Proper hydration ensures oxygen is delivered to all the cells in your body and it allows your kidneys to remove toxins from the body thus increasing immune function. Water also plays an important role in lymph production. Lymph is what carries white blood cells and other immune cells throughout the body to fight disease. How much water should you drink per day? There is no magic number as it depends on your age, weight, lifestyle, and where you live but this will give you a good start.
5. Wash your hands
Simple – plain soap and water can help prevent the spread of germs that can make you sick. If you have young kids make sure they wash their hands when they come home from school to stop the spread of viruses in the household.
6. Reduce Sugar
Eating and drinking too much sugar can depress the immune system decreasing its ability to attack bacteria. By cutting down on alcohol, sugary snacks and drinks will have an impact on your long-term health.
7. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol. Prolonged elevation of this hormone in your body can affect your immune system in two ways; by creating chronic inflammation that harms tissues and by suppressing immune cells needed to fight infection. It is impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives (after all some stress is actually good for us – but I’ll leave that for another post); there are many ways to minimize its impact on our body and mind. Some examples are diaphragmatic breathing or “belly breathing”, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy.
What is your go-to immunity booster?
If you would like to learn more about boosting your immune system don’t hesitate to reach out to one of HealthCircle’s registered health practitioners.