Everyone wants good immune system health these days, and who can blame them if it offers the opportunity to dodge the coming flu season.
No-one wants to sit around coughing and spluttering when everyone else is having fun, so we’ve put together seven things you can do that will boost your immune system and make sure you don’t go down with anything.
1) Drink more water
It’s easy to go about your day and forget to hydrate. Water is vital for keeping your body functioning well; it improves your energy levels and helps your body remove all the waste products that accumulate. Less cellular waste means that your body has a greater ability to fight infection. You’ll find it easier to stay hydrated if you eat foods with electrolytes and slow-burning carbohydrates as these will help your body absorb fluids.
2) Make sure you get enough sleep
We’ve all got busy lives so it’s tempting to cut back on sleep to get more done during the day, but doing so can have a negative impact on our immune health. Getting the right amount of time sleeping means that your body has the opportunity to restore and rejuvenate its immune system, ready to stop any bugs short in their tracks. It may be entertaining to stay up watching re-runs of your favourite series, but it’s restorative to hit the pillow at the right time.
3) Cut back on alcohol
Drinking too much can lead to dehydration and poor sleep, which are two things you need to maintain in order to have a fully-functioning immune system. Any alcohol you ingest will likely have left the body within eight hours, but the lasting effects of dehydration and depletion can carry on for over a day. As well as this, your body will still be coping with all the carbohydrates, so reducing the alcohol you drink will help you stay hydrated and help your body focus on recuperation from your last workout.
4) Wash your hands frequently
Washing your hands with the time-tested combination of soap and water can help make sure microbes and germs don’t spread. It’s a jungle out there, and there’s no telling what bugs may have been on any of the things you’ve touched while you’re out and about. If you regularly wash your hands, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of spreading germs between the things you touch in your daily life.
5) Improve your gut health
Your gastrointestinal tract plays a significant part in your overall immune health because much of the immune machinery lives in your gut. The gut is lined by cells that produce many of the antibodies that we depend upon to keep viruses and bacteria at bay, so a few simple tricks can help keep them productive. Things such as regular exercise, reducing stress and eating probiotic foods such a sauerkraut and yoghurt can help keep your gut’s immune defences in top shape.
6) Get more exercise
Your workout routine is an important part of keeping your entire body in good condition, including your immune system. Even if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, a gentle workout can turn that around and make you feel good again. One of the reasons for this is that exercise helps eject bacteria from the lungs and raise your body temperature, which makes life hard for bacteria.
7) Don’t touch your face without washing your hands first
We all do things like rubbing our chin or eyes, holding our chin, scratching our noses or even licking our fingers to get yoghurt off them. We rarely pay attention to the germs that we might have on hands but if they get close to the nose, eyes or mouth, they can pose a threat. Which is why it’s a good idea to make sure your hands are clean before putting your hands on your face.
What vitamins help boost your immune system?
Vitamins can help to keep your immune system working well; including vitamins B6, B12, A, E, C and D. Alongside this, minerals such as iron, selenium, copper, and folate can help contribute to this too.
Rather than relying on supplements, it is recommended that you choose foods with the right vitamins to help build up your immune system, and over time. So although drinking orange juice can help when you’re unwell, you would not see much benefit from drinking more than one glass of orange juice as part of your breakfast, than just drinking one.
So if you decide to increase your vitamin and mineral consumption to help boost your immune system, remember that it’s a cumulative effect, and that in order to be protected from catching a cold during cold and flu system, you need to start as early as possible.
What foods can I eat to boost my immune system?
There are no single foods or specific diets that can ‘boost’ your immunity, particularly in cold and flu season. However, focusing on getting the nutrients you need to improve your immune system, through food (and Vitamin D supplements) is beneficial.
Foods that can help you get these key nutrients include fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat, fish, plant proteins, dairy products and fortified dairy alternatives, and wholegrains.
Does exercise improve your immune system?
Yes, exercise can improve your immune system as it contributes to your overall health, which in turn can support the functioning of your immune system. It is important to get the balance right – mild and moderate exercise are optimal for the immune-boosting benefits of exercise, but prolonged high intensity training, and overtraining, can actually suppress your immune system.
Stay strong, stay healthy
While these ideas are all aimed at keeping your immune system strong, you can also see things like getting enough sleep and exercises are full of practical benefits. Ultimately, it’s all about taking care of yourself and making sure that stress and lifestyle doesn’t get the better of you.
If you want to take the first step to getting more exercise, speak to our team at your nearest club and they will be able start your new fitness regime.