Our immune system is a complex network of cells, organs and tissues that work as our first line of defence to protect us from viruses and pathogens.
There isn’t one magic pill that can instantly boost immunity, but by making simple lifestyle changes you can strengthen your immune system and improve your defence against viruses.
Five simple steps to support immune health
1. Improve Gut Health
Support your gut health: 70-80% of immune cells are housed in our gut. Eat at least 5 – 10 portions of colourful fruit and vegetables per day.
Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrate intake ( junk foods), alcohol and cigarettes: foods that convert to sugars weaken immunity.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
Whilst we sleep our bodies rest and restore, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response.
Many people don’t realise that the immune system is very closely linked to their stress levels. Whilst stress alone cannot make us catch virus, it can weaken the immune system’s ability to respond to invaders, leaving us more vulnerable to infection. During stress the fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on, over-exposing the body to cortisol and other stress hormones. The cells of the immune system (and other body systems) are unable to respond normally and produce levels of inflammation which deplete immunity.
Ways to reduce stress
- Take up a daily meditation practise
- Exercise ( just 20 mins a day can decrease stress hormones)
- Seek counselling or talk through your problems
- Focus on deep breathing
- Write a daily gratitude list.
- Limit time listening to negativity
- Let go of resentment – studies show that people who practise daily gratitude and forgiveness have strong immune systems!
4. Exercise please consider social distancing protocols at this time and stay 2 metres apart or exercise at home in the garden
Exercise in nature. Even 20 minutes spent outside has been shown to lower the main stress hormone cortisol, which itself leads to increased inflammation and reduced immunity.
5. Consider a supplement
An all round multi vitamin is a good way to make sure you are receiving adequate levels of vitamins and minerals if your diet is not great.
Vitamin D is shown to increase immunity, however research is on going.
Consider a probiotic in your immune support regime.
Vitamin C is also shown in research to boost immunity.
It is important to state that no single supplement will protect against viruses alone. Covid 19 is a new virus and this there is not enough known about it. However by adopting a holistic approach to your self care and focusing on mind and body, it is possible to strengthen your immune defence and possibly reduce symptoms and protection.
The bottom line: Your body does a better job fighting off illness and healing wounds when it’s not under stress and has optimum nutrition. it would be of utmost important to focus on increased self care and wellbeing at this time.
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