Power To Your Immune System
While we have all been washing our hands diligently and maintaining social distancing like our life depends on it now it’s time to ask ourselves what else might help or more importantly is there anything I can do to be less sick if I get the virus or any flu.
A strong immune system can help you avoid many illnesses or if you get them you will recover faster. If you have high blood sugars there’s a good chance that your immune system is not quite firing on all cylinders. Sadly this is what caused havoc for many people that suffered from Covid-19.
You have much more control over your immune system than you may think. Contrary to what the adverts may tell you strong immune health does not come out of a bottle, vitamins can help but going natural should always be your first course of action.
Here’s great tips to power up your immune system.
- Feed your healthy gut bacteria. Much of your immune system is influenced by your gut microbiome and research shows that eating a diverse range of high fibre whole foods is one way to do this. The beauty of high fibre foods like oats, vegetables and beans is that they fill you as well as help maintain healthy blood sugars.
- Vegetables, yes I’m saying it again because it can’t be said enough! Increasing your vegetable intake could be the best thing you can do for your immune system right now. Get into the habit of eating as many different colours as possible but always include greens. Vitamin C is particularly good and is plentiful in red peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Berries are the best of the fruits, they are bursting with nutrients and have lots of fibre. Try to eat a mix of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. They are a fantastic way to jazz up plain unsweetened yoghurt. Top it with some nuts and seeds and it’s a meal for a king. Plus, it’s really filling! If you can eat live yoghurt as this too is great for your gut bacteria (also called microbiome).
- Sleep. There’s a reason why we say sleep underpins our health. Getting those 8 hours is crucial to your immune health. We do most of our healing while we are sleeping and studies have shown that if we are not getting adequate sleep we are much more likely to catch illnesses and viruses. Particularly during this time prioritise your sleep and get as much as you need. For most adults that’s a minimum of 7 hours.
- Sunshine. As well as positively affecting our mood which also boosts our immune system sunshine on your skin really does produce Vitamin D which is important to your immune system. Getting as much fresh air and natural light on your face also helps you get more quality sleep so take advantage at every opportunity.
- Exercise. Rather than think of it as a weight loss tool think of it as strengthening your immune system. Exercise has so many benefits but it rarely gets credit for keeping illness at bay. Try to get a minimum of 40 minutes per day but every little helps and even 5 minutes is better than nothing. In truth 5 minutes of high intensity and sweating may be better than a 20 minutes stroll. But doing both is best, at every opportunity. You don’t need to go for the burn, movement throughout the day is important for all of us and to keep our immune systems strong.
By doing all of these things your health as well as your immune system will really benefit. Unfortunately it’s a delicate balance and some things are really damaging to your immune system putting you at greater risk of catching viruses and illnesses and being sicker for longer. Dont ruin all of your hard work with these:
- Stress. We all know that stress kills and it’s not just heart attacks. It can have a negative effect on your immune system also and increase inflammation which can worsen many symptoms. We all have stress and currently for many it’s particularly bad. You cannot stop the stress but you can control how it affects you. This takes constant practise and may not be easy but its necessary. Take short walks in nature, learn to meditate or do mindfulness, phone a friend, take time out – the key thing is to understand what helps you de-stress and include it in your day. Prioritise this and both your mental health and your immune system will thank you for it.
- Sugar and processed foods. Food manufacturers do not care about your immune system, they create foods that we will become addicted to and that don’t fill us up for long so we keep going back for more. Indulgence in sugary foods and drinks can really wreck your immune system and no amount of exercise will make up for it. They play havoc with your gut bacteria as well as increasing inflammation and pushing you closer to diabetes or some cancers. One fizzy drink and breakfast roll can lower your immune system for an hour!
- Alcohol. If you are healthy staying within recommended guidelines of 17 ‘standard drinks’ for men and 11 for women is reasonable. One standard drink is half a pint of beer, small glass of wine or one shot of spirits. Beer tends to be laced with sugar so if you are overweight or at risk of diabetes be mindful of this. Also, do not add fizzy drinks to shots as this will be a double whammy on your immune system as well as your liver and blood sugar. Drink slowly, enjoy it as a treat and do not bow to peer pressure of rounds and binge drinking. It’s the horrors for your immune system as well as every other system in your body.
- Smoking. It’s not just lungs that are affected by smoking, it too will deplete your immune system. Particularly in this covid -19 crisis your immune system and your lungs need to be as strong as possible. It’s never too late to quit and the benefits are almost immediate.
The beauty of implementing these ten points is that not only will you have a turbo immune system when it comes to flu’s and viruses you will also reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease as well as losing weight (if necessary), having more energy and improving your mood.
What’s not to love about that!