Getting sick can seriously derail our plans, setting us back in the workplace or eating away our precious leisure time. It’s imperative that we invest time and effort in securing a healthier immune system. Here are some areas you should focus on!
High levels of mental stress have been linked to increased levels of immunosuppressive hormone. As the name suggests, these hormones can suppress your immune system activity, exposing you to dangerous infections. 1
Remember to always carve out time to relax and unwind with your friends and family. You don’t have to take a two-week vacation to enjoy leisure time. Simply taking a half-hour walk after dinner, or even eating breakfast with your kids can make a difference!
Catching your Zs
If you’re not getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep per night, your immune system can become compromised. To increase the amount of Rapid Eye Movement sleep you’re getting, try the following tips.2
- Cut down on the use of mobile phones, tablets and laptops before bed. Blue light from screens can stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine 8 hours before bed
- Excessive drinking diminishes quality of sleep. For men, drink no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol per day, and less than 2 to 3 units per day for women.
Getting enough exercise
Several studies have shown that people who engage in regular, moderate-intensity physical activities are less prone to respiratory illnesses such as coughs, cold and flu. What’s more, regular exercise diminishes your risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.3
If that’s not enough incentive to exercise, remember that physical activity also stimulates the production of serotonin. Known as the “happiness hormone”, it is linked to the feelings of well-being and relaxation. And remember, feeling relaxed improves your body’s ability to fight off infection!4
Get your vitamins
Here are some nutrients you should pack into your diet for a top-notch immune system.
- Vitamin C boosts white blood cell activity that is responsible for battling infection and fending off nasty bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C supplements are commonplace and affordable, but natural sources are just as easy to find — citrus fruits are a good place to start.
- Vitamin B6 is a crucial component in the formation of antibodies which helps to combat bacterial infection. It is readily found in wholemeal bread, red meat and oats.
- Zinc prevents certain common viruses from reproducing, including a few that causes the cold. You can get your daily dose of zinc from egg yolks, whole grain cereals and dairy products.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. By making these four adjustments to our lifestyle, we can stay healthy and enjoy a more productive life!
- Webster Merketon JI & Glaser R. Stress hormones and immune function. Cell Immunol. 2008; 252; Issues 1-2: 16-26.
- Lange T, Dimitrov S & Born J. Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on the human immune system. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010; 1193: 48-59.
- Martin SA, Pence BD & Woods JA. Exercise and respiratory tract viral infections. Exerc Sport Sci Review. 2009; 37(4): 157-164.
- Wintergerst ES, Maggini S & Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007; 51(4): 301-323.
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