With the changing of seasons, it’s inevitable that most of us will pick up some form of cold or other respiratory infection. But what can you, what measures can you take, to keep yourself in tip top shape? Whilst strictly speaking you can’t ‘boost’ immunity, you can do a few simple things each day to support the effective functioning of your immune system.
Rest and Restore
You won’t get very far driving a car with an empty fuel tank. Likewise, you can’t expect your immune system to fire on all cylinders without adequate down time to rest. Specifically, when you sleep, your body produces and releases a type of protein called cytokines. Cytokines target both infection and inflammation – and therefore are critical when it comes to the body’s immune response. If you’re not getting enough shut eye, you are robbing your body of this important protein – so hit the hay, pronto! Adults should aim to sleep for between seven and nine hours each night.
When it’s dark and cold outside, it’s understandable that the only place you’d like to be is tucked up, inside on your couch (preferably, with a hot chocolate in hand). But to support the effective functioning of your immune system, you need to get up, get out and get moving. Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce your susceptibility to developing upper respiratory infections, and can also positively impact the way your body responds to vaccines. Remember that good hygiene is also important when it comes to immunity though, so practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly (particularly after exercise) must never be underestimated.
Enjoying a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and various protein sources is a great way to make sure you’re consuming the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need for healthy immune system functioning. There is no magic formula for what you should eat – rather do your best to ‘eat the rainbow’ by filling your plate with different coloured food each meal. Wholegrains play an important role in maintaining the function of your immune system, with research showing that the regular consumption of wholegrain can have a positive impact on your gut health. With 70-80% of the body’s immune cells being found in the gut wall, do yourself a favour by adding some wholegrains to your plate – and giving your gut some love.
No More Bad Habits
Just like the car analogy we used earlier in this article – you can’t expect your body and your immune system to treat you well if you treat it like a nightclub, and fill it with cigarette smoke and alcohol. There is no grey area when it comes to smoking – it is bad for you, and it kills. Smoking will only hinder your immune systems best efforts to keep you healthy and well. When it comes to alcohol, moderation is key. A glass of wine here and there isn’t an immunity deal breaker, but it’s best to be mindful of your consumption.
When it comes to doing your best for your immune system – you don’t actually have to do very much!
Intended as general advice only. Please consult your Health Care Provider to discuss any specific concerns.