05 Mar How to boost your immune system.
Strengthen your immune system during cold and flu season.
Our immune system is designed to fight off sicknesses and viruses, however, it’s ability to do this effectively can easily get worn down from things such as stress, toxins, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. In this article, we look at some tangible ways you can prevent yourself from getting sick with this season’s colds, flus and viruses.
1. Wash your hands regularly
Washing your hands might sound simple enough, but it’s important to remember that most people don’t wash their hands correctly. Bacteria and viruses can remain intact around fingernails, between fingers and the backs of hands. It’s also important to remember that viruses can survive on high traffic surfaces such as door handles, fridge doors etc. While thorough hand washing for 20 seconds is preferred, arm yourself with some anti-bacterial hand sanitiser if you are not able to wash your hands.
It is much more difficult for viruses to stay airborne is there is moisture in the air, try adding a humidifier to help promote additional moisture where you work or at home.
3. Get plenty of rest
Sleep is crucial in maintaining a well-functioning immune system. When we sleep, our body releases cytokines which are essential in enabling your body to fight infections. Ensure you are getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water helps flush toxins from the body and promotes a healthier respiratory tract. Staying hydrated is also crucial for expelling built-up mucus in the throat and lungs.
5. Manage your stress
Exercise is a powerful and natural way to promote better physical and mental health, so next time you are struggling to go to the gym, a walk or a run, remember all the benefits on your mental and physical wellbeing.
6. Eat well
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds; is important for a healthy immune system. It is crucial to maintain a varied, colourful diet to ensure optimal nutrition, and adequate intake of phytochemicals such as carotenoids which research supports plays a crucial role in preventing illness (Khoo et. al. 2011).
7. Exercise regularly
Exercise is beneficial for both your immune system and your mental health. Each time we exercise, a neurotransmitter is released into the brain called ‘endorphins.’ Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, which can contribute to a happier, more positive and energised outlook on life. Exercise is also very important in defending the body against illnesses as exercise boosts blood flow, which circulates white blood cells around your body. White blood cells are part of the immune system and the body’s first line of defense. They travel through your blood and tissues looking for foreign invaders like fungi, parasites viruses and bacteria.
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Khoo, H., Prasad, K., Kong, K., Jiang, Y. and Ismail, A., 2011. Carotenoids and their isomers: colour pigments in fruits and vegetables. Molecules, 16(2), pp.1710-1738.