Your immune system is your body’s first and second line of defence against viruses, bacteria, parasites, and infection so it makes sense to do everything you can do strengthen it. Protect your immune system, and it will be able to protect you. It’s a lifelong partnership.
Can you really boost your immunity though? Yes- and no. Remember that your immune system is a vast and complex network of cells and organs. It is constantly regenerating and adapting so rather than thinking about boosting your immune system, look at ways to support each part of it. Your body will do the rest.
Support your body’s immune system
The immune system is so complex that even scientists don’t really understand how a healthy lifestyle directly affects it. But one thing they all agree on is that having a healthier daily routine will support the individual parts of your immune system.
Give your immune system the upper hand
Choose a healthier lifestyle and your body will thank you. In fact, looking after your body with daily healthy habits is the best thing you can do to keep your in-built immune system stronger. Your immune system includes your skin, nasal passages, digestive system, mucus membranes, and blood cells. You can therefore see how a healthier approach to your environment, and what you eat and drink, will help. Protect your immune system from unnecessary environmental attacks and leave it free to do the important stuff.
It doesn’t matter how old your children are, if they’re at nursery, school or college, they’ll be prone to picking up a whole manner of bugs and bringing them home. To try and prevent your family becoming ill time and time again, there are some quick and easy ways you can give your immune systems a boost:
- Don’t smoke and avoid passive smoke inhalation. This will help protect your nasal passages, mucus membranes, mouth, throat, and lungs as well as your skin.
- Eat a healthy diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat. A healthy diet will give your immune system the nourishment it needs. Trying to get kids to eat vegetables or things they’ve never tried before can be a challenge so you might want to look at the various supplements available instead. Adequate fibre and water will also help your gut, which is part of your immune system.
- Exercise regularly as daily activity is just as important as official workout time. Exercise and daily activity help you stay in control of your weight and avoid many lifestyle diseases. And being active is likely to help you deal with depression, low mood, and stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight. You shouldn’t be too heavy nor too light – focus on body fat and waist circumference. Body weight and body fat is linked to your risk of lifestyle diseases and diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even some cancers.
- Keep an eye on your blood pressure and take steps to control it if it gets too high. Blood pressure is a good indication of your body’s health, and your ability to deal with lifestyle stresses. Know what is normal for you and monitor it.
- Moderate alcohol consumption and avoid binge drinking. Alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle in moderation. Nevertheless, remember that it can contribute to weight gain and can suppress some parts of your immune system, leaving you open to illness and making recovery more difficult.
- Get enough good quality sleep every night. 7-8 hours is ideal but quality is important too. Sleep is directly linked to good health, lower body weight, less depression, and a healthier diet. The quality of your sleep is just as important as how many hours you get.
- Do what you can to avoid infection by washing your hands, keeping your environment clean, and preparing and cooking raw foods properly). It’s really simple, but if a member of your family starts to come down with a cold, they need to use a tissue or hanky when they sneeze. Washing hands regularly matters, especially after sneezing and before mealtimes. You should also wipe down any surfaces, computers or tablets to stop germs being spread between family members.
- Take steps to deal with everyday stress and worry. If you can’t get rid of the source of stress, then find ways that help you relax, unwind, and put things in perspective. Chronic stress is the type of ongoing everyday stress which can make us sick. We all have busy lives, but if you put your bodies under too much strain then this will have a negative impact on your immune system. While your kids are at school, why not go for a massage? Not only will it help you relax but it could improve your blood circulation.
- Be diligent about your health. Go to the Doctor for regular check-ups, and don’t avoid routine appointments. Treat your body well and it will repay you by keeping you fit and healthy for many years to come!
Read more about Immunity on the Health Hub