Your immune system defends your body against illness. For most people, our bodies will work effectively to fight off infection most of the time, but sometimes our immune system can weaken, and we can become poorly.
To function well, all components of the immune system (lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus) need to be in sync and balanced. No direct links have been identified between lifestyle and an enhanced immune response. Researchers suggest that best thing you can do to maintain your immune system is to adopt healthy living strategies that will benefit the entire body. Here are the most important elements when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle and boosting your immune system.
Get enough sleep
Inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Adults should aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, for teens this increases and infants may need up to 14 hours.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these tips for quality sleep:
- limit screen time for an hour before bed
- Sleep in a completely dark room
- Use a sleep mask
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Exercise for at least an hour a day
- Try having a bath, meditating or stretching before bed
Eat more plants
Plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are full of nutrients and antioxidants. Here are some of the ways I incorporate more plants into my diet:
- Plan and prep your meals for the week. Make sure to include lots of fruit and veg.
- Drink plant-based milk. Almond and cashew are my favourites, but there’s also soy, coconut and oat milk.
- Look for substitutes of your favorite animal-based foods. They’re usually full of veggie goodness and are extra delicious.
- Go foraging. Foraging is the activity of finding, and gathering wild foods. It’s a great way to stay active, spend time outdoors, and learn more about where your food comes from.
Lowering your sugar intake may decrease inflammation and your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Check how much sugar is in the food products that you buy. Here’s what some common labels mean:
- Low sugar: has less than 5g of sugar per 100g.
- No added sugar: although no sugar is added, there may be naturally occurring sugar in the food.
- Reduced fat or sugar: contains at least 30 per cent less fat or sugar than the standard version of the product.
Look after your gut
Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful organisms. Here are just a few foods that are great for your gut:
Gut health can also be improved by lowering stress, improving quality of sleep, staying hydrated and increasing fibre intake.
Long-term stress can cause imbalances in immune cell function.
Consider these activities to help you manage your stress:
- Regular exercise
- Mindfulness practices.
Please note that if your stress levels are becoming uncontrollable you should seek professional advice. You may benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist.
Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep your joints lubricated, prevent infections, transport nutrients around your body, and keep organs functioning properly. Preventing dehydration is important of maintaining your overall health.
As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes. So even if your body needs water, you might not realise it. That’s why it’s important that you making drinking water a regular habit.