Our immune system is a complex model of cells and system, each with their own role that work towards protecting us from illnesses – of any sort. The state of your body plays a vital role in determining if you’re more prone to get affected by an infection or a life threatening virus like Corona. Your physical, mental and emotional health all play a key role in keeping you strong and healthy. One of the many ways we can keep ourselves and others around us safe (during this global pandemic) is by being cautious and taking good care of our immune system.
Below are a few ways to boost your immune system
- An antioxidant-rich diet
While Vitamin C is a popular choice when it comes to fighting off cold and viruses, antioxidants in general play a huge role in strengthening our immune system. They help in developing white blood cells and help destroy death cells which are key to destroying harmful bacteria. Antioxidants also help in repairing damaged DNA and boosting the body’s ability to repair itself. Food is the best possible source of antioxidants, so add some of the following to your shopping list: berries, dark chocolate, artichoke, coffee, kidney beans, green tea, apples, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and oily fish.
This one in especially popular in South Asian households where garlic is popularly known and used to fight off cold, flu or any immunity dysfunction. The active compound found in garlic, allicin, has antibacterial properties that can help to prevent illness and infection. The benefits are ultimately in its anti-inflammatory properties, which help to keep the immune system working at its best.
- A good night’s sleep
The benefits of restful and rejuvenating sleep are endless. For now let’s focus on its impact on the immune system. Research shows that ample sleep and a balanced body and brain’s sleep/wake cycle will improve the production of anti-inflammatory cells and killer cells, improving the body’s ability to fight off infections.
A study by the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise journal has shown that regular brisk walking increases the circulation of white blood cells. The main purpose of these immune cells is to kill any sickness-causing pathogens. The same benefits can be harnessed with regular weight (resistance) training too, which increases the heart rate and the body temperature (another factor that contributes to killing bacteria). This study, however, also came with a caveat: any exercise done for 75 minutes or longer at a high intensity causes a spike in hormones, which can compromise the immune system. So, a balance of low and high intensity is key – and if you’re starting to feel under the weather, don’t go all out, but do keep moving.
- Cut down on alcohol and cigarettes
Smoking harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease. This increases the risk for several immune and autoimmune disorders (conditions caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells and tissues).
If you break down the ingredients in alcohol, you’re essentially looking at pure sugar. When consumed in excess, sugar and/or alcohol are major culprits in reducing the body’s ability to produce white blood cells, which means you’re more likely to succumb to viruses and bugs. In the longer term, alcohol can seriously compromise immune cell function, making your body more susceptible to disease.