13 Mar Boost your immune system to avoid illness
As we face the global spread of a virus, it is apparent that its health impact on those infected will vary greatly. Some have minimal or no symptoms at all, whereas the more vulnerable members of our population are at much higher risk of severe illness or even death.
Our immune system is the first line of defence when we’re exposed to an infection. Therefore, people with compromised immunity are most at risk such as people with chronic diseases or the elderly.
Although we can’t do anything about our age, there are many things we CAN do to strengthen and support our immune system. Here are some simple reminders of the things which you have control over regarding your own immunity:
No surprises we will start with this of course! We might all debate what the perfect ‘healthy’ diet is, but we know that eating a whole-food diet including a wide range of nutrients whilst avoiding sugar and processed foods is vital. Steer clear of junk and packaged foods which are low in nutrients and replace them with whole foods such as lean proteins, grains, fruits and vegetables. Adding a supplement such as Supergreens will provide an antioxidant rich source of nutrients and further immune support. Alongside a healthy diet they will lead to an improvement in overall health and immune function.
Maintaining good hydration allows your body carry oxygen to your cells and to effectively excrete toxins, which is vital in avoiding illness. Both green and chamomile tea are loaded with antioxidants and can help strengthen your immune system.
Getting plenty of good quality sleep is critical for your immune system to recharge. Your adrenal glands produce stress hormones and they will have a chance to recover as your body works to excrete toxins whilst sleeping. Sleep recharges your immune system which makes you better at resisting illness and decreases your chance of developing chronic disease such as diabetes stroke and blood pressure (which in themselves put you at higher risk of infection).
It’s widely known that moderate, regular exercise will benefit your overall health and reduce your risk of illness. Exercise has an anti-inflammatory influence which improves metabolic health and immune defence activity. Beware that illness risk is actually increased in athletes during periods of intense training and competition, and they may suffer from a depleted immune defence. It vital to maintain adequate carbohydrates and nutrient intake as an effective nutritional strategy for immune support for athletes. In summary – moderate exercise is good to strengthen your immunity, whereas intense exercise can deplete your immune system. In this case, focus very carefully on nutrition and recovery for added support, including plenty of carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients.
5. Avoiding Risk Factors:
- Smoking: Coronavirus seems to target smokers and people with underlying lung disease and is a clear risk factor for infection.
- Alcohol: Take a close look at your alcohol intake – we know that the cells involved in the first line of immune defence (macrophages) are not as effective in people who drink, and as little as 1-2 standard drinks per day can impair immunity.
- Chronic Stress: Stress will also reduce your immune response when challenged by an infection. Recognising stressors and working to reduce them through techniques such as meditation can also reduce your risk.
- Vitamin D: Low Vit D levels can also impair your immunity and so regular sun exposure in small doses is beneficial (be sure to avoid getting burnt).
While much of the current focus is around avoiding exposure to the virus, it is inevitable that you will face a challenge at some point. To avoid infection or to minimise the severity of an infection, it makes a lot of sense to do everything we can to strengthen our own immune systems through improving our own health and well-being.