We all know the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes having a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, and taking care of our mental wellness. These allow you to stay fit, look and feel good, and prevent long-term health problems like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. On top of this, our immune system is also something we should constantly look after.
Immune systems help our bodies get rid of infectious or unhealthy cells. Needless to say, a strong immune system deters viruses, harmful bacteria and toxins from making us fall sick. During the time when we are in the midst of a pandemic, many of us may have cut back on activities like sports or hitting the gym. Instead, we may have developed poor health habits and adopted a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore it is opportune to revisit a few natural ways to boost our immunity and better protect ourselves from illnesses.
Below are 3 simple ways you can achieve this.
1) Get moving!
Exercising regularly may sound obvious, yet it’s something we need to constantly remind ourselves about. What is considered regular? For adults, a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like jogging, brisk walking or cycling, is recommended. If you engage in higher-intensity workouts like running, stairs-climbing or jumping rope, 75 minutes of such exercise per week is advised. Adding 2 sessions of strength training into your weekly workout routine is ideal.
An active lifestyle greatly reduces the risk of bacterial and viral infections, while also minimizing the chances of contracting chronic health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes or obesity. Besides improving your immune responses, another advantage of exercising regularly is that it encourages the release of endorphins, and these feel-good hormones help you manage stress better.
If your access to gyms is limited or restricted, head outdoors so you get a good dose of Vitamin D, which does wonders for your immune system! Vitamin D can help lower your blood pressure, inhibit inflammatory diseases and even improve your mood.
2) Sleep tight!
The detoxification, regeneration and healing of the body takes place when we sleep. Hence getting sufficient quality sleep is crucial for your immune system. As you sleep, your body produces and circulates immune cells such as cytokines that regulate inflammation, and T-cells that regulate your immune response to viral infections.
Consequently, a lack of sleep means your body is unable to produce sufficient immune cells, making you more vulnerable to diseases. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep a day is hence recommended for adults. To sleep better, you can try to reduce screen time at least a couple of hours before going to bed, and also refrain from consuming content that is stressful or overly violent just before turning in. If you have problems falling asleep or find your sleep lacking in quality, there are many apps on the market such as Restly Sleep App (for iOS devices) that can help you rest better with calming sounds, sleep tracking and many other functions to promote quality sleep.
3) Watch your drink!
Drinking too much alcohol is linked to a host of detrimental health effects, along with a weakened immune system. As a diuretic, alcohol causes you to lose essential nutrients and minerals from the body by removing fluids from the system.
Furthermore, high alcohol intake not only results in you having less ability to fight an infection, but slows down your recovery time as well. Those who drink excessively may face a heightened risk of getting certain kinds of cancers, liver disease, pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
According to the CDC, you should strive to limit your intake to two or fewer drinks a day for men, and one drink or less a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed. Even better, avoid alcohol if you can.
So do make an effort to build up your immune system with more exercise, more sleep and less alcohol. It will pay rich dividends for your health, both in the short and long term!