Do you know there’s an army that exists inside our bodies – the one that fights off infections and protects us from contagious diseases? It’s the immune system. Each one of us has an active immune system capable of fighting pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, and this keeps our body healthy and safe. But just like a good army that requires good nutrition to fight the enemy efficiently and effectively, our body needs the necessary nutrition and sumptuous additional support for our immune cells to work well. This includes eating healthy, exercising well, and, most importantly, being consistent!
Here are 7 tips to support your quest for a healthy immune system!
1. Win with Vitamins
“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.” (Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1937).
Essential constituents of our diet, vitamins, have long been known to influence immune health. They help protect the body against toxins and infections, keeping it in good shape. There are two kinds of vitamins – water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins are required frequently by the body as they get drained out, and include vitamins B and C. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, can be stored in the fatty cells and aren’t required that often. They include A, D, E, and K.
To arm you with the best vitamins, let’s look at the crucial ones that need to be a part of your diet:
- Vitamin C: By encouraging the production and efficient functioning of WBCs (white blood cells), vitamin C helps boost the immune system. It also has healing properties that strengthen the skin’s defense system. Apart from citrus fruits, leafy greens, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries, and papayas serve as excellent sources.
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E may help ward off infections and is known as an essential nutrient that helps maintain the immune system. You can get your daily dose of vitamins from almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli.
- Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 helps regulate the immune function, and also supports it in responding accurately. Sources include: starchy vegetables like potatoes, fish, poultry, and certain non-citrus fruits
- Vitamin A: Found in colorful foods that contain carotenoids, vitamin A aids an antioxidant effect that helps strengthen the immune system – foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, squash, etc.
- Vitamin D: A deficiency of vitamin D may lead to the risk of sickness, so it is often recommended to be mindful of its dosage. Primary sources include salmon, sardines, milk, shrimp, and the sun!
2. Stock up on Immune System Boosting Foods
Sumptuous consumption of healthy fats found in olive oil and salmon may promote the body’s response against pathogens. Ensuring your gut health by consuming fermented foods and probiotics, can help your immune system identify harmful pathogens in the gut effectively. Other sources include:
Papaya: Contains antioxidants like lycopene, that help reduce the risk of several diseases and neutralize free radicals.
Ginger: With its antibacterial properties, it helps support the immune system.
Citrus Fruits: Fruits like orange, lemons, lime, grapefruit, etc. are very nutritious and offer a host of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that promote good health.
Carrots: Loaded with antioxidants, that help your body fight against free radicals, carrots are known to provide an immune system boost.
Other sources include matcha or green tea powder, berries, mushrooms, and garlic, and they load your immune system with nutritive ammunition against disease-causing germs and bacteria.
3. Consistent Moderate Exercise
A moderate exercise regime can promote good immune health. Exercising is also known as one of the essential pillars of healthy living. It is known to help improve heart health, control body weight, and assists in protecting the body against an array of diseases. Apart from these, daily exercise can help promote good circulation, allowing the cells and substances of the immune system to move freely throughout the body. Along with good food for proper nourishment and good immune support, our body also requires a moderate amount of exercise to stay in shape. It is recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This includes brisk walking, steady cycling, swimming, jogging, etc.
4. Manage Stress Levels
Keeping your stress and anxiety levels under control is essential for maintaining proper immune health. A disturbed mind can cause chaos and lead to a lack of focus. This lack of focus in our day to day life may negatively impact the immune health. Stress for prolonged duration promotes inflammation along with immune imbalance. Activities like Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and exercise can ensure a properly functioning immune system. In case your stress levels are shooting up, try seeing a therapist or engaging in mindful self-talks.
5. Get Ample Rest and Sleep
Have you noticed how you’re asked to rest when you’re sick and not feeling well? That’s because immunity and sleep are very tightly knit. If your sleeping patterns are unhealthy, you might be more susceptible to illness. By ensuring that you get at least 7 hours of sleep daily, you can help promote good immune health naturally. In case you have trouble sleeping, try reducing your screen time (phone, laptops, monitor, etc.), especially when you’re about to sleep. This way, you ensure the blue light exposure is less as it has the potential to disturb the circadian rhythm – otherwise known as the body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.
6. Stay Hydrated
ydration doesn’t necessarily ensure that your body is protected against germs or viruses – but avoiding dehydration is extremely essential for overall health. Disturbances in the mood, physical performance, digestion, and overall health, are signs of dehydration. This can make our bodies susceptible to illness. Consuming enough fluids can ensure that the harmful toxins in the body are washed away. Although tea and juices sound exciting, nothing beats water as it is free of calories, additives, and sugar.
A simple rule: drink water when you’re thirsty, stop when you aren’t.
7. Power-up with Immunity-Boosting Supplements
Adding on supplements in the form of the powders, capsules, tablets, gels, etc. can boost immune health to a certain extent. It is often recommended to opt for dietary supplements if you aren’t getting enough nutrition required to keep your immunity in shape through your diet. But you need to consult your doctor or nutritionist to ensure the right dosage and requirement. Popular supplements include vitamins and probiotic formulations that boost gut health and overall wellness.
Immunity boosting vitamins and minerals are popular across demographics due to the manifold benefits they offer.
It is possible to achieve a healthy and active immune system through daily diet and exercise. Reducing sugar intake, staying hydrated, and opting for nutritional supplements when required, can boost your immune health and assist you in staying healthy and active!