Sleep and immunity go hand in hand.
Our immune system comprises of various organs, cells, and chemicals, which combat infection-causing pathogens. The immune system’s primary components include antibodies, white blood cells, the spleen, the lymph system, the thymus, the complement system, and the bone marrow.
In light of the current COVID pandemic, the primary focus for protection, against the coronavirus, in particular, is on enhancing immunity.
When it comes to boosting immunity, the process is easier said than done. The process takes time as the human body takes time to develop its defense responses. Therefore, patience and consistency are necessary.
The easiest way to induce the process is to introduce various dietary and lifestyle changes to enhance the body’s response to harmful pathogens.
The following is a list of 8 ways in which you can take care of your health and build a more robust immune system.
Eat whole plant foods
Whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes, are rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants that help boost immunity. They help protect the human body against harmful pathogens.
Free radicals are responsible for inducing inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is proved to result in various health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and more. Foods potent in antioxidants help reduce inflammation by combatting free radicals.
A healthy gut microbiome (healthy bacteria community) strengthens immunity and prevents pathogens from entering the body via the gut. The fiber present in whole plant foods aids digestive health by feeding the gut microbiome.
Moreover, whole plant foods are rich in minerals, and nutrients like vitamin C. Vitamin C is particularly helpful in preventing infections such as the common cold and more.
Manage stress levels
Stress is a primary contributor to reduced immunity. Prolonged stress promotes inflammation and imbalances in immune cell function. Research proves that long-term psychological stress can suppress immunity in children.
Lowering your stress levels with the help of exercise, meditation, and mindfulness can help boost your immune system. Moreover, you may consult a professional counselor or therapist for stress relief and management advice.
Eat healthy fats
Minimal inflammation is a normal response to physiological stress or injury. Chronic inflammation, however, can suppress your immunity. Healthy fats help boost the body’s immune response to invading pathogens by reducing inflammation.
Healthy fats are abundant in food items such as fish and olive oil. Fish is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids that combat inflammation and reduce the risk of acquiring infections. Olive oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent that fights disease-causing pathogens. Moreover, it has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and more.
Limit added sugar intake
Refined carbohydrates and added sugars have been proven to contribute to obesity. Obesity, in turn, increases your risk of acquiring an infection.
An observational study of 1000 study subjects concluded that obese people who were given the flu vaccine were twice more likely to get the flu than non-obese individuals who were given the vaccine.
Limiting your sugar intake can help reduce inflammation, aid weight loss, and enhancing immunity, thereby reducing the risk of developing ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, infections, etc.
Your sugar intake should be less than 5% of your daily calorie count. Therefore, if you take a 2000-calorie diet, 5% would add up to 25 grams or two tablespoons of sugar.
Eat fermented foods or probiotic supplements
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, natto, kefir, and sauerkraut, are potent sources of beneficial bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics form the normal microbiome of the digestive tract. Research proves that a healthy gut microbiome can help boost immunity by identifying and targeting harmful pathogens.
As per the results of a 3-month-long study involving 126 children, those who drank 70 mL of fermented milk every day reported reduced incidences of infection (20% lesser) as compared to the control group.
If you do not enjoy the taste or smell of fermented foods, a good alternative is probiotic supplements.
A month-long research project studied the effect of the probiotic Bifidobacterium animals in 152 rhinovirus infected participants. Participants supplemented with the probiotic revealed a stronger immune response with reduced virus levels in their nasal mucus instead of the control group.
Studies suggest that moderate exercise can enhance the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immunity. Regular and moderate exercise also helps reduce inflammation enabling your immune cells to regenerate regularly.
Engaging in regular and moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and hiking, can help build a stronger immune system. If you enjoy other ways to engage in exercise, you can take up a sport or join the gym, such as the Castle Gym, to facilitate daily physical activity.
Get more than 7 hours of sleep
Sleep and immunity go hand in hand. Research suggests that insufficient sleep or poor quality of sleep may result in a higher susceptibility to illness.
As per the results of a study with 164 participants, people who slept for less than six hours every night had a greater likelihood of catching a cold as compared to those who slept for more than six hours.
Adults are advised to sleep for more than 7 hours every night. Teens are required to sleep for 8 to 10 hours. As for infants, 14 hours of sleep is sufficient.
If you struggle to sleep well or for long hours, try to limit your screen time. This is because the blue light emitted from devices such as your TV, phone, or computer screen can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm). Other tips include exercising regularly, sleeping in a dark room, and setting a bedtime.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated is critical. While staying hydrated does little to protect you from pathogens, it is integral to maintain your overall health.
Dehydration may hinder your physical performance, digestion, mood, concentration, and heart and kidney function. Moreover, it can result in headaches and blackouts – all of which can increase your vulnerability to illness.
In order to prevent dehydration, make sure to consume enough fluid daily that your urine is pale yellow in color. The best liquid to consume is water, as it is free of calories, sugar, and additives. Limit your intake of fluids such as juice, sweet tea, and fizzy drinks due to their high sugar content.
Health must be everyone’s top priority, especially considering the current COVID crisis. A healthy immune system can prevent you from a plethora of ailments.
The immune system is a complex entity that can be enhanced with the help of these everyday lifestyle modifications. Be sure to incorporate these eight measures into your daily routine to feel healthier and stronger.
Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. As writing is her passion that why she loves to write articles related to the latest trends in technology and sometimes on health-tech as well. She is crazy about chocolates. You can find her at twitter: @ashrosa2.