By Dr. Rajiv P. Bhanej, Homeopathy
Your immune system is your body’s defence mechanism, which prevents illnesses and infections. The immune system is spread all over the body and consists of cells, tissues, organs and proteins. When the system encounters a foreign organism such as a virus or bacteria, it attacks it and removes it, keeping us safe.
Here are some lifestyle and dietary changes that you need to adopt in order to enhance your immune system.
- Get adequate sleep - Getting proper shut-eye is vital for keeping your immune system strong. As sleep and immunity are connected, inadequate sleep can increase the chances of infection and illnesses. This is because your body heals and regenerates during sleep. When you sleep, your body creates and distributes important immune cells such as cytokines, interleukin 12 and T-cells. These strengthen your immunity. When you do not get adequate sleep, your immune system does not produce these, making you more likely to get infected or sick. Sleep deprivation also increases the secretion of cortisol, which is harmful to the proper functioning of your immune system. It is recommended that you sleep for 7 to 8 hours every day. For quality sleep, turn off all electronics at least 2 or 3 hours before bed.
- Include plant-based foods and healthy fats in your diet - You must have more whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seeds which are all rich sources of antioxidants. Carrots, spinach, apricots and strawberries are great sources of Vitamin A and C. Nuts and seeds are packed with zinc, protein, fat and Vitamin E. Lean meat, seafood and poultry are also great sources of protein and zinc. Eat more healthy fats found in olive oil, salmon, tuna and mackerel. You will get plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, tuna and mackerel, which fight inflammation and reduce chances of chronic diseases.
- Keep your stress levels in check - You have to manage your stress levels to develop a stronger immune system. The body releases cortisol during a stressful event to help you react properly to the situation. But when your body is constantly under stress and high levels of cortisol are secreted, it can block the immune system. This leaves you vulnerable against viruses a bacteria. Make sure to engage in some fun activity every day that leaves you to stress-free. You can start with five minutes of breathing exercises. You can lie down and listen to music, read a book or watch a movie. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress levels and keep your blood pressure under control. It helps in sleeping better, which in turn helps you to de-stress.
- Exercise daily - Exercising regularly will keep you and your immune system healthy. It increases your blood circulation that also helps the immune system to function properly. Regular exercise reduces inflammation which in turn allows the cells of your immune system to regenerate quickly. You can opt for jogging, hitting the gym, swimming or just walking every day to keep yourself fit.
- Drink enough water - Staying hydrated will indirectly improve your immune system. You must drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day to avoid dehydration. This is because dehydration causes indigestion and can hamper the functioning of your heart and kidneys. So, increase the intake of water every day. Limit drinking sweetened fruit juices and beverages that are high in sugar content, which is unhealthy for you.
Apart from the points mentioned above, ditch bad habits such as smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol. As these habits lower your immune function, it is best to cut them off.