The most effective way to combat disease and infections is by strengthening your immune system. Your immune system is responsible for defending you against illness-causing bacteria and viruses. Washing your hands and avoiding contact with those who are sick are excellent precautions to take as well, but it’s not enough. Strong immunity should be your first line of defense, and here are the best ways to achieve that.
Improve the quality of your sleep
When you sleep, your body takes the time to heal and repair cells, muscles, and organs. It’s helpful to think of your body as a computer or machine. If you don’t allow it time to cool down and rest, it has the potential to become overheated. Lack of sleep compromises the effectiveness of your body’s natural defense systems. Your body also releases stress hormones like cortisol which helps keep you alert and awake, but can ultimately suppress your immune system. That’s why it’s important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
But a lengthy slumber doesn’t necessarily equate to a good quality one, so make sure that you’re not just sleeping for a long time but actually resting well. You can do this by:
- Using things like sleeping earplugs and eye masks to prevent distractions
- Skipping caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
- Staying active during the day
- Keeping a regular bedtime schedule
- Meditating before bed and as soon as you wake up
- Maintain a healthy diet
About 80% of our immune system is linked directly to our gut, which is why we need to watch what we eat. A healthy diet guarantees a healthy gut and therefore a strong and effective immune system.
A Mediterranean diet is highly recommended by physicians since it’s rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats. Vitamin C, zinc, and antioxidants found in fatty fish, nuts, and olive oil (which are common ingredients in a Mediterranean style of eating) reduces inflammation and boosts immunity.
In addition, it’s helpful to limit the consumption of meat and processed foods. To encourage the build-up of good bacteria in your gut, you should also add whole foods to your diet such as fermented food like yogurt, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Keep stress at bay
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When you’re chronically stressed out, just as when you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases an excess amount of cortisol. Cortisol reduces the antibodies in the gut and respiratory tract which defends us against pathogens. There are plenty of ways for you to keep your stress levels in check including:
- Meditating, deep breathing exercises, and yoga
- Regular walks outside
- Regular exercise
- Positive interactions with friends and loved ones
- Consulting with a licensed therapist
- Use supplements strategically
Supplemental herbs and vitamins are exactly what they say they are — supplemental. This means that they can’t magically cure or prevent you from getting the flu or any other virus, they can only offer extra protection. Simply because you’re taking them doesn’t mean you should ignore all the other forms of precaution available to you such as proper hygiene, social distancing, and maintaining proper diet and exercise.
Strengthening your immune system is almost the same as wearing a full suit of body armor against disease and illness-causing microorganisms. Take care of yourself and those around you by ensuring your health is in tip-top shape.