With winter just around the corner, some of us may be feeling a bit under the weather as our immune systems have been compromised in the last couple of years. Not only has the pandemic had an effect on our immunity, your immune system functions naturally begin to degrade over time. In order for your immune system to work effectively, it requires a harmonious and balanced environment, and that all starts with your habits. If you’re looking for all natural and healthy ways to boost your body’s immunity this winter, read ahead!
Switch up your diet
Changing up your diet can often be the best way to improve your immune system. Reducing alcohol consumption and eating more nutritious foods is the way to go. Besides your obvious fruit and vegetables filled with vitamins, there are plenty of other foods you should incorporate in to your diet to improve immune system function.
· Seeds and nuts (including peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds) are a great source of vitamins, protein, iron and zinc
· Monounsaturated fats (often found in vegetables, such as avocados)
· Greens such as kale and broccoli are filled with vitamin A, C, E, zinc and iron
· Fish such as salmon and tuna are rich with omega 3 fatty acids, protein and zinc
· Yoghurt is a great probiotic (full of good bacteria) high in vitamin A, protein and zinc
Now you have a list of all the vital vitamins you need, what do each of these do for your body?
Protein is essential for repair, recovery and the building of antibodies. The synthesis of glutathione is required for a healthy immune system, and eating 1g of protein a day will promote this synthesis.
Vitamins A, C, D, E are all powerful nutrients that aid the immune system. These antioxidants are crucial for fighting off infections within the body.
Iron helps carry oxygen around your body to all of your cells. If we don’t intake enough iron, our muscle and tissue can lead to a breakdown of their functions, which can leave you vulnerable to pathogens.
Zinc is crucial for the making of new immune cells.
Scientific evidence has proven that short sessions (about 45 minutes) of moderate exercise are the most beneficial for an immunity boost. As blood flow increases, this circulates immune cells round your body (the number of immune cells circulating can increase from around 50% to 400%!).
Stress is often a cause of an underactive immune system. If you’re feeling a lot of stress from work or home, exercising is a great way to lower the production of stress hormones in your body.
Cardio exercise can help expel bacteria from the lungs and airways, which can decrease your chance of catching an illness! Furthermore, the slight increase in body temperature can actually prevent the growth of bacteria within the body. If you’re not quite feeling a 10k run, just getting out for a brisk walk will do wonders for not only you immunity, but your mental health too!
Get some shut eye
Sleep disorders such as insomnia have a huge effect on the immune system. During your sleep, your body begins to recuperate. A great example of how sleep aids in the repair of our bodies is, an increased amount of Cytokines are produced by the body during your sleep, these aid with inflammation. Having 8 hours of undisturbed sleep is the best way to ensure that your immune memory is strengthened, which reinforces the immune systems skills in fighting off pathogens.
If you find that you’re struggling with sleep here are some things to try and get a better night sleep:
· Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine later in the evening
· Avoid using screens an hour before bed- try reading a book an hour before bed instead of scrolling through Instagram!
· Avoid eating late at night (we know avoiding midnight snacking may be hard!)
· Try using lavender and chamomile teas or products
· Take a night soak in a hot bath
· Listen to meditation or sleep aids- there are plenty of apps and videos available online, try some and see what works for you
· Make sure your bedroom is comfortable- ensure your room is dark and between 18-24c, try aromatherapy with essential oils, make sure your mattress and pillows are correct for you, keep it clean!
Water actively helps with the circulation of blood around the body, which means it aids with the distribution of nutrients and oxygen to all the vital systems and cells. Hydrating is also a brilliant way to detoxify the body, especially if you’ve had a few nights out drinking! Drinking warm water has actually been linked with faster metabolism, meaning nutrients can be absorbed by the body much quicker.
If you’re not a huge fan of drinking plain or warm water, herbal teas are a brilliant way to hydrate with some healthy added flavour! Alternatively, eating foods with high water content, such as melon, cucumbers and even soups/broths!