Just like the rest of the world, you might be feeling anxious about the state of your health right now. However, COVID-19 outbreak isn’t time to stress and feel weak, it’s time to do everything you can to strengthen your immunity.
A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to fighting off negative feelings and keeping your immune system strong. So, instead of panicking, here’s what you can do to boost your immune system and increase your energy levels.
P.S. Remember that you should always take care of your immune system, and not only during the pandemic.
Your Immune System
The immune system is your body’s natural defense mechanism against viruses, infections, bacteria, and other disease-causing microorganisms. That’s why if you want it to keep working at the highest levels, it’s critical that you include a few immune-boosting habits into your lifestyle.
So how exactly does your immune system work?
The immune system consists of cells, tissues, proteins, and organs. Once a foreign microorganism enters your body, the immune system reacts to it and tries to get rid of it. If it fails to do so, the infection starts spreading in your body successfully, and as a result, you get sick.
Of course, it’s impossible to protect yourself from every single disease. So, if you end up getting any of the common colds, your immune system responds to it with fever. Although it’s a nasty feeling, it means that your body is trying to fight and make you free of that infection.
It explains why people with weak immune systems catch colds more often than those with more robust immune systems. So, if you want to avoid illnesses, you better make sure your body’s natural barrier works well.
5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Now that you know how essential your immune system is for preventing different diseases, it’s time to learn what you can do to strengthen it. Here are a few immune-boosting tips you should follow to stay healthy.
Getting enough sleep is critical for your overall well-being. According to this study, those who sleep less than six hours are more likely to get sick or develop respiratory problems. So, ensure you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night because it’s one of the most effective and easiest ways to keep your immune system in good shape. So why not take advantage of quarantine and give your body enough rest?
“A multitude of studies point to seven hours as the magic number when it comes to how much sleep a person should aim to get each night. However, this can vary slightly with each individual. Additional research suggests that “catching up on sleep” actually does not offer the body any advantages over getting a steady dose of seven hours of shuteye every night. While at rest, the body is quite busy. The body is genetically designed to sleep at night when the sun goes down and rise with the sun, and during this time, it repairs itself and releases toxins so one can arise feeling renewed. But without sufficient restful sleep, it’s hard to feel refreshed and energized
at the beginning of a new day. Those that practice irregular sleep patterns or work night shifts, for example, may struggle with their health simply due to lack of sleep, which can result in chronic inflammation and diseases such as diabetes and premature liver failure. Lack of sleep can also result in lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the kind that protects); higher levels of triglyceride, which has been linked to increased risk of heart disease; and higher amounts of body fat.”
Stress can strongly affect your immune system, and unfortunately, not in a good way. High stress levels might lower and weaken your body’s defense mechanism significantly. That’s why as hard as it sometimes might be, try to avoid stressful situations and control your reactions to them. And if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to lower your stress levels, practice yoga, read, meditate, listen to music, watch an uplifting movie, or exercise.
“The term “stress is a killer” is clearly evident by its ability to wreak havoc in the entire body while chronically diminishing the immune response. In turn, this lowers the body’s ability to defend itself from all pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, mold, parasites, and candida. When under stress, your body is in an exhaustive state that handicaps its ability to defend itself. Restoring the autonomic nervous system to a parasympathetic state and breaking the destructive cycle of stress is also outlined in my book and can be accomplished through a simple mindfulness meditation practice.”
Dr. Gerry Curatola, Founder of Rejuvenation Health
Take Good Care of Your Hygiene
Although it’s a well-known fact by now, we’ll repeat it one more time. Washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to protect yourself from various pathogens, including coronavirus. So, make this fun activity your habit. Do it all the time, especially after you sneeze, cough, come from outside, use the restroom, or before you decide to touch your face.
“As a food scientist, my first and foremost advice is to take care of the basics: unprocessed, healthy food, and good hygiene. You should make sure that you have enough food to provide you the necessary vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fat, as well as the most basic hygiene products, like soap, clean water, and alcohol-based sanitizers.”
Dr. Asli Tanugur Samanci, CEO and Founder of BEE & YOU
Increase Your Vitamin Intake
Providing your body with enough vitamins and minerals is essential if you want your immune system to be reliable and perform its functions properly.
“On a macro level, fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats, as well as fermented foods, are ideal for keeping the body and immune system working well. On a micro level, some of my favorites are foods rich in key nutrients for immune health, including vitamin D, vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, zinc, and vitamin E. Great sources of these foods include oysters (smoked are awesome! And less expensive!), liver (we make homemade chicken liver pate), leafy greens like kale, broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts, and fatty fish like salmon.”
Aubrey Phelps, Perinatal and Pediatric Nutritionist
Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune boosters. You can easily find it in citrus fruits (eg., lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges) or vegetables (e.g., bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, kale.) Since your body doesn’t produce or store this vitamin, you need to ensure you’re getting its daily intake. If you find yourself unable to eat enough fruit and vegetables that contain vitamin C
Vitamin B6 contributes to supporting biochemical reactions in your immune system. You can get it from chicken, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, and some green vegetables.
Vitamin E is one of the most potent antioxidants as it helps your body prevent infections and maintains your immune system function. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, so you need to remember that it needs fat to be absorbed properly. That’s why nuts and seeds are the best sources of Vitamin E.
- Other vitamins that can help you boost your immune system include Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Zinc. You can find them in many foods like turmeric, dairy, whole grains, and legumes.
Moderate physical activities are great for strengthening your immune system. Moreover, regular workouts can make you feel more energetic and happier. Exercising also contributes to advancing blood circulation in your body, and as a result, helping your immune system fight off alien organisms faster. However, you should remember that excessive exercise can lower your natural immunity. So, as much as you might love working out hard, you should find a perfect balance between training and rest.
“The increased blood flow from exercise stimulates the lining of our blood vessels, known as the endothelium, and causes it to release beneficial, medicine-like compounds into our bodies. These compounds help keep our immune system working well. The key is not to overdo it with exercise as that can act as a stressor on the body and decrease immune system function (this is part of the reason why people often get sick when they start a new gym routine). Listen to your body and, if you're not feeling up to par, take it easy on the workout. Otherwise, keeping your body moving helps keep it healthy.”
Marissa Szabo, Certified Health Coach & Founder of Well & Simple
Your immune system is a complex construction that requires your input to withstand various disease-causing bacteria. That’s why taking care of your body’s defense mechanism should be your number one priority all year round.
Do you want to boost your immune system naturally? Then you should do your best to give up harmful habits, eat healthy food, exercise, get enough sleep, lower your stress levels, practice proper hygiene, and monitor your daily vitamin intake.
If you experience health problems very often and are concerned about the state of your immune system, you should never turn to self-medication and consult your doctor first.