Our immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs. Together they help the body fight infections and other illnesses. When bacteria and viruses invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This is called an infection. Infections cause illnesses that make you sick. Your immune system protects you from illness by fighting off bacteria.
Our immune system can cause an immune response in the absence of a real threat. This can cause problems such as allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. With autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. Other immune system problems occur when the immune system is not functioning properly. These issues include immunodeficiency diseases. People who suffer from such a deficiency, get sick more often. Your infection may last longer, be more serious, and be difficult to treat.
Immunity isn’t as easy as it sounds, but different diets and lifestyle changes can help your body’s natural defenses and fight harmful pathogens and disease-causing organisms.
Here are a few tips to increase your immune health:
Sleep and immunity are inextricably linked. In fact, poor sleep quality makes you more susceptible to illness. In a study of 164 healthy adults, those who slept less than 6 hours each night were more likely to develop the disease than those who slept more than 6 hours each night. With enough rest, you can boost your innate immunity. Also, when you are sick, you can sleep better, so your immune system can better fight the illness. Adults should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, while teens need up to 8-10 hours, and younger children and toddlers need up to 14 hours. Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room, using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time each night, and exercising regularly.
2. Better food habits
You would be thinking it would be best if eating a certain type of food would magically help you avoid all the viruses around but washing hands and keeping clean does come first.
What you eat does affect your ability to fight colds and the flu, thus a better immune system. Although not summarized in just one or two foods, the nutrients and other compounds in our daily diet affect the weakness and strength of our immunity.
- Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables daily: They contain important vitamins involved in the immune system. Vitamin C in foods such as strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits supports the function of immune system cells, including phagocytic cells (the type that swallow potentially harmful particles). Vitamin A helps keep the tissues of the mouth, intestines and respiratory tract healthy and is found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots and honeydew melons. Keep in mind that it is better to eat real fruits and vegetables than to swallow individual vitamin supplements, as all ingredients in the diet can interact to provide protection.
- Eat protein rich food: A lack of protein can weaken your immune system. Protein-rich foods provide the amino acids needed to build essential proteins in the body, such as antibodies. Animal foods such as beef and pork also contain zinc, a mineral used by the body to make T cells (cashew nuts and chickpeas also contain zinc).
- Try including fermented foods in your diet: These are foods that are naturally preserved by bacteria and are suitable for the “microbiome”. That`s the name for the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut, where a lot of cells involved in immunity reside. Fermented foods like yogurt (look for the term “live and active cultures” on the label), kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi help beneficial bacteria flourish in the gut, leaving less room for harmful bugs. In a 3-month study of 126 children, those who drank 2.4 ounces (70 mL) of fermented milk daily had about 20 years of paediatric infection compared to the control group. In a 28-day study of 152 people infected with rhinovirus, those supplemented with probioticBifidobacterium animalis had a stronger immune response and lower levels of virus in nasal mucus than a control group.
- Eat healthier fats: Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and salmon, can boost the body’s immune response to pathogens by reducing inflammation. Mild inflammation is a normal response to stress and injury, while chronic inflammation can suppress the immune system. Olive oil, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight the bacteria and viruses that cause harmful illnesses. Omega 3 fatty acids fight inflammation, similar to those found in salmon and chia seeds.
- Limit the added sugar: Recent studies suggest that sugar additions and refined carbohydrates may contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity. Obesity can also increase the risk of developing the disease.
According to an observational study of about 1,000 people, obese people who were administered the flu vaccine were twice as likely to continue to be infected with flu as non-obese people who took the vaccine.
Controlling sugar intake may reduce inflammation, support weight loss, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Given that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease can weaken the immune system, limiting sugar is an important part of an immune-boosting diet. You should strive to limit your sugar intake to less than 5% of your daily calories. This equals about 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for someone on a 2,000calorie diet.
Add seasoning to your meals: Every plant food has its own unique compounds that offer potential health-boosting benefits. Spices and seasonings like garlic, ginger, oregano, and cinnamon have all been researched for intriguing capabilities as antimicrobials, anti-inflammatory, and cell-protecting antioxidants. They`re not magic cure-alls and popping them in the form of pills isn`t the same as eating the real deal. But adding flavor to foods with these ingredients means you`re getting even more beneficial compounds in the meals you eat every day.
Many whole plant foods contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, all of which may lower your susceptibility to illness.
3. Exercise moderately
Prolonged intense exercise can suppress the immune system, while moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system. According to a study, a single moderate exercise can increase the effectiveness of the vaccine in people with weakened immunity. In addition, regular and moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and help immune cells regenerate regularly. Examples of moderate exercise include active walking, stable cycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
4. Keep yourself hydrated
Drink enough water. Keeping hydrated doesn’t necessarily protect you from bacteria and viruses, but avoiding dehydration is important to your overall health. Dehydration causes headaches and can affect physical fitness, concentration, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase susceptibility to the disease. To prevent dehydration, you need to drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. It is best to consume water that is calorie-free, additive-free, and sugar-free. While tea and juice are also hydrating, make sure you limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar contents. As a general guideline, you should drink when you`re thirsty and stop when you`re no longer thirsty. You may need to drink more fluids if you exercise intensely, work outside, or live in a hot climate. It`s important to note that older adults begin to lose the urge to drink, as their bodies do not signal thirst adequately. Older adults need to drink regularly even if they do not feel thirsty.
5. Try to manage your stress level
Relieving stress and anxiety is the key to the health of the immune system. Long-term stress promotes inflammation and an imbalance in immune cell function. Long-term psychological stress can suppress the child’s immune response. Activities that help you manage stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness practices. You can also benefit from meeting a qualified counselor or therapist in effect or in person.
6. Take your supplement wisely
Some studies indicate that the following supplements may strengthen your body`s general immune response:
According to a review in over 11,000 people, taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Yet, supplementing did not prevent the cold. Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect. Nonetheless, taking vitamin D when you already have adequate levels won’t provide any extra benefits. In a review of 575 people who had a cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33%.
In a small review of Elderberrysupplements, it was found that chickens may reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory tract infections, but more research is needed. Echinacea supplements, according to a study of more than 700 people, those who took it recovered slightly faster from the cold than those who received a placebo or no treatment, but the difference was small. A high-quality 12-week study of 146 people found that garlic supplementation reduced the incidence of colds by about 30%. But more research is needed.
In addition, dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are prone to mislabelling. Therefore, you should only purchase dietary supplements that have been independently tested by third-party organizations such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and Consumer Lab.
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