Your first line of defense against infections of any kind is your immune system. The main components of the immune system are white blood cells and antibodies, skin, as well as the lymphatic system. Other systems that support the immune system are the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. A healthy immune system responds immediately when the immunity is compromised by a pathogen. It either directly attacks the pathogen or produces special proteins called antibodies called antigens. Let’s find out simple ways to boost your immunity levels to prevent or limit infection.
Helpful Ways To Boost Your Immune System
There are several ways you can boost your immune system including eating a healthy diet, getting enough hours of sleep, exercising regularly, and minimizing stress levels in your life. Here are practical ways you can implement these steps.
Eat A Plant-Based Diet
Studies show that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients such as beta carotene, zinc, as well as vitamins C, D, and E that help boost immunity levels. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an additional reason to eat a plant-based diet is that such a diet is rich in antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and bring down the chances of chronic disease.
The best way to maximize the benefits of a plant-based diet is to include a variety of fruits and vegetables such as apple, pears, bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables in your daily diet. Try mixing your meals up with smoothies, soups, stews, and curries so that your diet is varied. Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, which are rich in zinc, can help boost white blood cells in the body.
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is a vital indicator of our immunity levels and overall health. While we are all aware that we need to sleep for 8-10 hours at night, we forget to make the sleep quality a priority. A 2012 research report shows that inadequate sleep can disrupt hormonal cycles and cause inflammation in the body. According to The National Sleep Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, there are simple and effective ways to get better sleep. These include:
- Sticking to a daily sleep schedule, including weekends
- Avoiding stimulants like alcohol and caffeine
- Exercising regularly
- Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and using pillows if required
- Ensuring a suitable temperature, lighting, and sound in your bedroom
- Staying away from electronic devices just before bedtime
Moderate intensity exercises reduce inflammation and improve the immune response to respiratory viral infections, according to a report in the Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. A 30-minute brisk walk, playing outdoors with your kids, cycling, gardening, and water aerobics are examples of moderate-intensity exercises. Exercising regularly also causes changes in the white blood cells and antibodies, raising the chances of fighting viral infections.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight can throw the body’s natural response to infections off balance. Research reports show that a weight loss of 13 pounds (6 kgs) in obese people is enough to bring down the level of pro-inflammatory cells to that of a healthy individual. According to Associate Professor Katherine Samaras from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, only a small amount of weight loss can cause an 80 percent reduction in pro-inflammatory cells as well as have an overall positive effect on the immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that smoking harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease. Diseases that can be worsened by smoking include lung infections, rheumatoid arthritis, bacterial meningitis, and periodontal or gum disease, among others.
Take Steps To Avoid Infection
Simple steps like washing your hands regularly, keeping your living area clean, and cooking meats thoroughly does help cut down the risks of infection. Make sure your fruits and vegetables are washed well before consumption. Check the expiry dates of frozen foods and canned goods. This helps keep food-borne infections and toxins at bay.
Manage Your Stress Levels
When we are stressed, the body’s ability to fight antigens is reduced, making us more susceptible to infections. Manage your stress levels by taking out time to do things that you love. This could include reading, spending time with loved ones, cooking, listening to music, or gardening.
Also, a 2016 meta-analysis of mindfulness meditation studies, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, showed that the practice helps reduce inflammation in the body and benefits the immune system. Try simple meditation techniques to release the tension in the muscles and regulate breathing.
These are some simple ways you can build disease-fighting abilities. By making small changes in your lifestyle, you can boost your immune system and in turn, your overall health.