The beginning of 2020 has become and continues to be a challenging time for everyone around the globe. With the unexpected Covid-19 virus spreading across the planet, together we have stepped into what seems like a new world that we never imagined we would experience in our life times, and this new way of life doesn’t have an expiry date at this moment in time. With Covid-19 being at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, panic and fear has been heightened.
We have looked into five of the best ways you can help to boost your immune system, now this isn’t specific to the Covid-19 virus but these are things that you can implement or build on in your life to give yourself a stronger immune system and help to fight off illness.
1. Stay Active & Keep Moving
Although you may have some reservations about the gym when it comes to germs, there is no doubt that working out is an effective way to help boost your immune system. Exercise leads to an increase in circulation of your body’s antibodies and white blood cells, which means they can detect and combat any bugs at a faster rate. By staying active it also helps to lower your body’s stress hormones, which in turn can also reduce your risk of getting sick.
Start by introducing a balance of low and high intensity workouts- if you start feeling unwell don’t go too hard but instead go for a walk.
2. Good Gut Health & Diet
A lot of people do not realise that the gut wall is where 70% of the body’s immune cells can be found, and this is why good gut health and diet is crucial to a healthy body. The digestive system is important when it comes to metabolising any toxins in the body, and if you up your fibre intake it will keep any toxins moving through the gut quickly. Fibre especially has a direct effect on improving the microbiomes found in the digestival walls.
You can start by adding some antioxidant foods to your diet, such as berries, dark chocolate, coffee, kidney beans, apples, oily fish and green leafy vegetables.
3. Take Care of Your Mental Health
It should be no surprise that there is a strong connection between the body’s immune system and mental health. If you are under constant stress or anxiety, a stress hormone is produced by your body that also dampens your immune system. Research has previously revealed that the more someone is stressed, the more likely they will develop the common cold. In life unfortunately we cannot avoid stress, so try to introduce strategies that will help you manage your mental health better.
Some ideas could be to meet up with friends, introduce regular mindful meditation, start keeping a journal, etc. Gradually add healthy habits that will help you manage the stress and anxiety in your life.
4. Get Good-Quality Sleep
There are many benefits to a good and restful night's sleep, including its effect on the immune system. Previous research from the European Journal of Physiology found that sufficient sleep and a balanced body and brain sleep/wake cycle (also known as the circadian system), improved the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (which is a substance secreted by the immune system), and killer cells, which improves the body’s ability to fight infections.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, if you do you are four times less likely to come down with a cold.
5. Take the Right Supplements
Immunology lecturer, Dr Jenna Macciochi, said that, ‘when we are ill, our immune cells need almost double the amount of vitamin C’.Vitamin C has the potential of reducing the severity and length of infections, and by topping up your vitamin C levels when you are feeling sick is a great way to boost lagging energy levels.
Some other immune-boosting supplements are;
- Vitamin D, which promotes bone health and helps to regulate calcium
- Glutamine, which is an amino acid that promotes cell recovery and supports functioning of the immune system
- Zinc is essential in activating T-cells, which assist in the support of immune cell activity. Taking zinc can shorten the lifespan of cold and flu symptoms
- Echinacea has antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which supports the immune system functions. It can also reduce stress and help indirectly in supporting the immune system.
There are no tricks, easy cures or herbs and vitamins that will stop you from getting a cold, flu or any other virus, but there are things you can do to shorten the lifespan of a sickness and to improve the body’s ability to fight off infections.