Are you tired of being run down and catching every illness that’s going around? Here are some easy ways to boost your immune system and get more out of your day.
Even the healthiest people get sick and rundown at some point, but by adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing your stress you can help strengthen your immune system’s defence against nasties that cause colds, flu and other illnesses. To keep you fit and healthy, follow these five immunity-boosting steps:
- Eat a diet based on whole foods: Your immune system needs regular nourishment because without it you’re more prone to illness and disease. Loading up on processed or highly refined foods means your body isn’t getting all the important nutrients it needs to keep you functioning at your best. A diet loaded with whole foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products and wholegrains on the other hand will give you all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
- Exercise regularly: The more physically fit and active you are, the less likely you are to suffer from colds during the winter months, say US researchers. People who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress hormones in the blood and research shows that there is a link between lower levels of stress hormones and improved immunity. Make exercise part of your daily routine and aim to include 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation impairs immune function and increases illness risk. It does this by reducing our T cells (type of white cells that are important for healthy immune function) and increasing our cytokines (inflammatory markers). This means the more all-nighters you pull, the more likely you are to feel rundown and more susceptible to colds and infections. Higher levels of sleep loss also leads to higher levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, which can trigger the key cellular pathway that produces tissue-damaging inflammation. Inflammation is thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular events and shorten life span. Although we all need different amounts of sleep, aim for about 7-8 hours each night. Learning to relax and steering clear of alcohol will help you get your beauty sleep.
- Relax: There’s a connection between mind and body, with people who report higher levels of stress having higher cortisol levels and lower levels of immune cells in the blood. Stressful thoughts have actually been found to lower levels of immune antibodies – a protein that attaches itself to foreign bodies and destroys them. Happy, non-stressful thoughts are enough to boost these levels of immune antibodies. Include 30-minutes of relaxation time into your daily schedule.
- Be positive: Always look on the bright side of life, as happier people are less likely to catch a cold than people who are depressed, angry or nervous. Positive emotions decrease stress hormones and activate immune cells, while negative emotions release the stress hormone, which suppress immune activity, increasing the likelihood of ill-health. Become a positive thinker and you’re immune system will thank you.
Photo Credit: Ingimage
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.