With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and increase in flu cases that comes with winter, we’re all keener than ever to build a strong immune system. Employing a regular routine of healthy diet, sleep, and exercise is your best weapon against illness, and so with that in mind, today we’re sharing 5 ways to strengthen your immunity.
- Healthy eating and supplementation
Most of us have heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, and there’s truth to the sentiment! The pace of modern life can feel relentless, as we attempt to juggle our many responsibilities with work and childcare commitments – even as most of us are confined to home. It’s important, however, to always make time for a balanced diet, recharging your mind and body. While most of us are working from home, embrace the opportunity to establish a routine of regular nourishment, with some experts suggesting 4-5 smaller meals a day is best. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables (whether fresh or cooked), protein from meat, fish, and dairy products, and fiber from cereal grains is generally ideal.
On the other hand, let’s remember fruits and vegetables we buy today typically contain up to 70% less macro and micronutrients than they did in the 1980s. For this reason, additional supplementation is important if you want to guarantee you’re meeting the recommended intake of certain nutritional groups. Vitamin C is known to help boost the immune system, with zinc, selenium, and vitamins B and D also helpful. Alternatively, you could reach for a ready-made set of vitamins and minerals tailored to boost overall health, with many pharmacies offering such products.
- Get moving; a healthy body equals a healthy mind
You don’t necessarily need to sign up to a gym or swimming pool to stay active. With many leisure facilities closed due to the pandemic, simple home and outdoor workouts are experiencing a surge in popularity. Phone apps can help you set targets and monitor your physical activity, with 10,000 steps per day generally seen as a solid goal to aim for. Simple lifestyle changes, like cycling or walking instead of taking the bus, swapping the elevator for the stairs, and suchlike, can also make a big difference.
You could also try setting up a designated fitness zone at home! Pick a spot to set up exercise equipment so you can do light training regularly, even if the gym is shut (or simply not your scene). Not only is regular movement great for our mental health, by helping us burn off the stresses of daily life and flooding our brains with the “happiness hormone” endorphins, a healthy, energized body gives us the best chance of fighting off sickness.
- Cold baths
Cold baths (both at home and in the sea) have become pretty fashionable lately. This is because of their connections to cryotherapy – cold water treatment with well documented health benefits. Evidence shows it can help to burn excess fat and aid muscle recovery, with people who swim regularly thought to suffer fewer bouts of illness due to a boost in immunity.
It’s important to note the activity isn’t suitable for everyone; those with epilepsy, cardiovascular problems, Lyme disease, and certain chronic illnesses should avoid sea therapy. If you are well enough (and brave enough!) to take the plunge, you should avoid immersing yourself beyond chest height, and since we lose much of our body heat through our head and hands, a hat and gloves will help to stave off hypothermia or cold shock. Earplugs (such as Haspro Swim Universal) will also help to prevent water from entering the ear canal should you or anyone else cause a splash. If you’re just starting out on your adventure with the sea, it’s wise to tag along with an experienced swimmer who can guide you and make sure it’s safe.
- Regular sleep
The average adult should be aiming for around 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Regular, deep sleep plays a key role in strengthening your immune system by providing your body with the time it needs to rest and recuperate from daily strain. When we sleep, our heartbeat, metabolism, and breathing all slow down, so our muscles can focus on repairing themselves. With what is essentially a built-in filing system, our brain also utilizes this time to process the information it has gathered throughout the day, only storing what we need so we can awake feeling refreshed.
When considering this holistic approach, it’s easy to understand why quality sleep is so important to our overall physical and mental health – not to mention its role in boosting our immune system.
Conversely, sleep deprivation can make cells that catch and destroy viruses function poorly, and the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood will be elevated. This in turn can lead to an increased concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which puts us at greater risk of injury and discomfort.
Universal reusable earplugs can help to block out excess noise, giving you the best chance of a restful night’s sleep.
- Daily rest
The fifth crucial factor in maintaining high immunity is daily rest. Such is the struggle to keep up with the pace of modern life and strike a balance between our private and professional obligations, it’s all too easy to burn out. It’s vital you allow yourself time to relax. By factoring down-time into your routine – even as little as 30 minutes a day – this simple method of self-care will become second nature. This time could be spent reading a good book, taking a relaxing bath, strolling in the fresh air, listening to your favorite music, or otherwise. On days off, embrace time away from work and enjoy doing the things that make you happy, be this on your own or with loved ones.
These simple actions can help you bolster your body’s immune system. By implementing them into your daily life, you will equip yourself with the best chance of avoiding illness, allowing you to face the challenges of the days ahead with a greater sense of overall well-being.