5 Daily Practices to Strengthen Your Immune System
- Dr Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 4 Min Read
- Fact Checked
We are surrounded by millions of organisms and many a time our body is challenged by insults in the form of chemical, biological and Environmental. Protecting against all these, our immune system does a remarkable job. Microorganisms invade the body and cause illness and our body’s way of fighting infections is through the Immune system. There is no magic pill or a diet for a normal functioning immune system, but there are certain ways to have the Immune system functioning at its optimum.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System
1. Watch what you eat
Nutrition and Immunity go hand in hand. A diet that includes good amounts of fruits and vegetables helps in delivering those vitamins and essential nutrients to the body including the constantly dividing immune cells. Also, adequate protein is required for the proper functioning of the Immune system. Gut health is crucial in maintaining normal immunity, so eating prebiotics and probiotics will help our Immune system to react appropriately. Including different naturally colored foods like Bananas, apples, greens, beets, carrots will help. Eating well means limiting the amount of sugar and saturated fat which cause oxidative damage and lead to aberrant Immune responses. However, too much of the essential nutrients and minerals can also be harmful. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements
2. Sleep well
The last three decades have seen the impact of sleep deprivation on multiple systems of the body including the Immune system. Like how the brain consolidates memory when a person sleeps, immune memory is strengthened. Melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, produced during sleep also helps mitigate the inflammation happening during the sleep hours. Research also proves that sleep deprivation leads to an increased risk of allergies due to abnormalities in the Immune system. 7-8 hrs of uninterrupted sleep is essential for normal functioning. Maintaining sleep hygiene like avoiding noise, light from mobile phones or laptops is important to have that proper sleep cycle. Relaxation techniques like meditation or listening to music can be done before bedtime to induce sleep.
3. Avoid Smoking and Excessive alcohol
Smoke has substances that will modulate the local immune responses and disturb them. These substances like nicotine, Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxides affect the immune cells and decrease their movement to the microbes and also microbial fighting capacity. Also, the body goes into a state of immunosuppression. Complete cessation of Smoking is needed for optimum immune function.
Excessive alcohol consumption including binge drinking can affect the local immunity in Airways and the gut and thus disrupting the protective barrier. Studies have shown that alcohol directly suppresses T cells which are an essential component of Cell-mediated immunity.
4. Exercise and Physical activity
Physical inactivity is one of the biggest vices. Exercise is one of the essential components of healthy living. It helps in maintaining body weight, prevention of lifestyle disorders, and also infectious diseases. Moderate intensity exercise stimulates Cellular Immunity. Exercise-induced stimulation of chemical substances helps in increasing concentration and mobility of the Immune cells( Leucocytes). Studies have found that people who exercise are at less risk of falling sick with Respiratory infections and also Autoimmune disorders.
30 min and 5 days a week, of moderate-intensity exercises like Brisk walking, cycling, swimming, aerobics or strength training would help the body in many ways including proper functioning of the Immune system
5. Keep the Stress at bay
Stress has enormous effects on multiple organs. It not only increases the risk of diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes, heart diseases but also impacts the Immune system negatively. Stress affects the concentration of Lymphocytes which can decrease the Body’s fighting capacity. Also, the Cortisol hormone is released during stress and it downregulates the function of Immune cells including mobility and killing capacity of the cells. Stressors need to be identified and worked upon. Stress-relieving activities like exercise, Taichi, yoga & meditation, breathing exercises can be done. Even ten minutes a day of it can be helpful. A mental health professional can help if things seem out of control or not improving.
Everyone wants to have a healthy Immune system. Following general good-health guidelines will help in keeping the immune system working normally. A healthy lifestyle not only helps with the immune system but also other body organs to work better. If we take care of our body, the Immune system will take care of us.