When it comes to boosting your immune system, it’s not exactly a straight forward endeavour. According to Harvard Health Publishing, in order for the immune system to function in tip-top shape, balance is required in the body.
So, it all comes down to your lifestyle as a whole and how your daily decisions concerning food, exercise and stress affect the immune system.
Factors that affect your immune system
In order to keep your body healthy and the immune system strongly functioning, try your best to adhere to the following:
- Avoid smoking
- Engage in exercise regularly
- Eat a variety of fruits and veggies
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Get quality sleep every day
- Keep stress at a minimum
- Practice good personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing
By living in line with these principles, you’re more likely to have a strong immune system and decrease your chances of getting sick.
Foods that boost the immune system
Consuming certain foods can help keep your immune system strong, especially during cold and flu season. With the cold weather looming, try adding these foods to your daily diet to keep your immunity up.
Vitamin C (abundant in citrus fruits) is great for fighting sickness. According to a 2017 study, “vitamin C is necessary for the immune system to mount and sustain an adequate response against pathogens.” Vitamin C also appears to help prevent and treat “respiratory and systemic infections by enhancing various immune cell functions.”
So, to help prevent or fight sickness, load up on citrus fruits including lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. Keep in mind that the body doesn’t actually store vitamin C, so you need to consume it daily for continued benefits.
You may have heard garlic is great for fighting illness, but it also has immune-boosting properties. According to Healthline, this is because of the large concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, like alliin, within it. These compounds can boost the disease-fighting response of white blood cells in the body.
Garlic is super easy to add into your diet as it’s used in pretty much every cuisine around the world. Make a conscious effort to pop a clove or two into your dinner each night.
Not only is kiwi delicious but it’s good for your immunity thanks to the oodles of nutrients it contains, which include folate, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C.
The inclusion of vitamin C is great as it helps to boost white blood cells, which help to fight infection within the body. So, it can help nip any sickness in the bud.
The effect of stress on the immune system
Research shows the immune system responds to other signals from different areas of the body. And, there is strong evidence that stressful experiences can actually alter features of the immune system and its response.
According to The New York Times, your body also finds it easier to fight off sickness when it’s not dealing with massive amounts of stress. While further research is needed in this area, there is a definite link between health and stress, so trying to lower your stress levels and keeping them manageable will help with your immunity.
Wash your hands
As the world grapples with the idea of a global pandemic, there is one piece of advice that bears being repeated again: wash your hands frequently.
One of the easiest ways to get sick is through touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face. So, wash your hands thoroughly and carry an alcohol-based sanitiser with you. While this won’t completely prevent you from getting sick, it will greatly reduce your chances.
Health is extremely personal, including the quality of one’s immune system. The above advice is for the average, healthy person. If you have prior health conditions that compromise your immune system, the response of these might not be as effective for you.
Chat to your GP if you have any concerns about your immunity.