Our body comes in contact with several pathogens on a daily basis, and yet only a few infections result in diseases. This is possible because our body has the ability to release antibodies. These antibodies sense any foreign substances that may have invaded our body and get rid of them. This mechanism, which acts for our body as its first wall of defense, is called immunity. Our immunity system is made up of white blood cells, antibodies, complement system, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus.
We need to keep this whole mechanism strong especially during the pandemic situations when we are more vulnerable to viruses.
Here are some science-backed ways that can help you boost your immune system:
1. Get adequate sleep
Waking up early every day is recommended, but that does not mean that one must compromise with their sleep. Inadequate sleep affects your body in drastic ways. It only hampers your moods and energy levels in the short-term but continuous deprivation can further complicate health issues.
Plenty of important things happen in our bodies when we are sleeping. Important infection-fighting molecules are created, old cells rejuvenate, and newer cells are also formed. People who don’t get enough quality sleep are more vulnerable to getting sick after being exposed to viruses.
It’s important to know how much sleep you must get, as well as the steps to take if your sleep is suffering. Adults are recommended to sleep for 7 or more hours each night, while teenagers need 8–10 hours, and younger children and infants need up to 14 hours.
In case you are having trouble with your sleep, try limiting screen time before bed, as the blue light emitted from screens disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle. Sleeping in a completely dark room or using an eye mask also helps. It is imperative that you stick to a schedule and go to sleep at the same time every night.
In short, let’s all be the sleeping beauty we are meant to be!
2. Eat a balanced diet
A proper diet is essential to provide support to our immune system. Below are a few food habits that must be kept in mind while charting a proper diet plan:
- Include food rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants repair sick cells. It also reduces the effects of age while maintaining health.
- Eat more fermented foods: Fermented foods are rich in useful bacteria called probiotics that are also present in our digestive tract. Examples are – yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto.
- Limit added Sugars: sugar and refined carbs contribute to obesity. Reducing sugar intake can decrease inflammation and help in weight loss, thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s best to limit the intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar content.
For people with a sweet tooth – you can replace sugar with jaggery.
- Food rich in fiber: The fiber in plant foods feeds the community of healthy bacteria in our gut. Gut health is an indication of overall body health and immunity. A robust gut improves immunity and helps in keeping harmful pathogens from entering the body via the digestive tract.
- By eating healthy fats: Healthy fats are found in olive oil and salmon. Olive oil decreases the risk of diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A list of foods you can add to your diet:
- Citrus fruits – Caught a cold? Eat an orange! Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells which are an important force in fighting infections. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C -grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes
Our body doesn’t produce or store Vitamin C, which is why doctors recommended making these fruits a part of our daily staple.
- Red bell peppers – Rich in Vitamin C. Besides boosting the immune system, vitamin C helps in keeping our eyes and skin healthy.
- Broccoli – Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables one can include in their diet.
Instead of cooking, steaming is the best way to keep more nutrients intact in the food.
- Garlic – rich in sulfur-containing compounds that help keep immunity strong.
- Ginger – Ginger helps decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat, nausea, and other inflammatory illnesses. It also helps decrease chronic pain and possesses cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Spinach – Rich in vitamin C, it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
- Almonds – Vitamin E requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Almonds are packed with the necessary vitamin and also have healthy fats.
- Sunflower seeds – They are rich in nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E.
- Turmeric – It makes for as a key ingredient in many Indian curries. This bright yellow spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating arthritis.
- Green tea – Both green and black teas are packed with antioxidants and amino acids.
- Papaya – Loaded with vitamin C and digestive enzymes that have anti-inflammatory effects, Papayas also have decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate.
- Poultry – We all reach out for chicken soup when we are sick. The soup helps in lowering inflammation, which improves symptoms of a cold.
Chicken and turkey and high in vitamin B-6, a vitamin that is essential for the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.
- Shellfish – Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it for our immune cells. Oysters, crab, lobster, and mussels are some examples.
- Giloy or Guduchi – An ayurvedic herb with the power to eliminate asthma, arthritis, and diabetes.
The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which are responsible for inflammation when they build up inside the body at high levels.
Variety is the key to a proper nutritional diet.
Doctors believe that our bodies absorb vitamins more efficiently from food, rather than from supplements, which is why the best way to support our immune system is to eat a well-balanced diet.
3. Drink plenty of water
- Drinking water helps in the removal of toxins from your body, which otherwise could aid in the growth of infections and diseases by making immunity weak.
- The circulatory system of your body has a fluid called lymph which is largely composed of water. The purpose of lymph is to carry important infection-fighting immune cells around the body. Being dehydrated affects the functioning of the lymph, resulting in an impaired immune system.
- The human body constantly loses water through breathing, as well as through urine and bowel movements.
- Dehydration hampers your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and the function of various organs. These complications can increase vulnerability to illness.
So, to help support the immune system it is necessary to replace the water that is constantly being lost. Adults are recommended to drink 3 liters of water every day.
Life is hard, but staying hydrated isn’t!
4. Exercise regularly
Exercising improves the overall blood circulation of the body making it easier for immune cells to travel more easily throughout your body. Committing to as little as 30 minutes of exercise every day can be helpful in stimulating the immune system. It also reduces inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate properly.
5. Minimize stress
Pandemic has proved to be testing times for everyone. Staying inside homes for a prolonged period of time with no exposure to outside world has its own kind of implications on the mental wellbeing of a person. Work is one major reason why people suffer from stress. Here are a few steps we can follow regularly to help relieve ourselves.
- Practice meditation: Stress leads to the release of a hormone known as cortisol. It impairs your response to immediate surroundings and makes your body susceptible to diseases. Meditation is the best way to fight it.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and other addictive substances: Habits like smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption and substance abuse have a direct correlation between weakened body defenses and respiratory illnesses. Smoking has been proven to weaken your lung capacity and destroy the cells lining of respiratory tracts, these cells are crucial to fight viruses that enter through the nose.
Activities that may help you manage your stress also include journaling, yoga, music, arts and crafts, and other mindfulness practices.
There are plenty of supplements and products that claim to help boost immunity. But boosting a healthy immune system is not as simple as ingesting a mix of vitamins, herbs, minerals or pills.
Immunity systems works in a delicate balance. It needs to be strong enough to fight off a variety of infections.
While boosting your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes mentioned above can strengthen your body’s primary natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens.
If you are looking for ways to improve your immunity with a proper diet, here we are to help you out with our customized diet plan that will boost your immunity and help you stay fit.