With the world brought to a standstill by the current Coronavirus pandemic, there has never been a more critical time to look after your immune system. While scientists work hard to find a vaccine for COVID-19, we are being asked to stay in our homes and do all we can to protect our health.
Not everyone has a healthy immune system, and many factors can contribute to weakening it. So, how can we look after our immune system to ensure it is strong and able to function efficiently?
Ditch The Habit
Smoking is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies. Nicotine suppresses the immune system so if you find you are suffering from colds more often, then look for ways to quit smoking. There’s never been a better time to quit, and whilst it may be easier said than done, there’s plenty of help out there. Take a look at the NHS and Healthy Heart Foundation resources.
Don’t Sit Still
Exercise and activity boosts our immune system. You can start with something as simple as your daily step rate. We should all be aiming for 10,000 steps per day. Try fun activities such as bike rides or even a home workout. Just ensure you get active every day – provided you’re able to.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Many of us like a drink from time to time, but it will come as no surprise that drinking alcohol can be harmful to the whole body. It is especially harmful to the regeneration of cells that make up our immune system. If you find yourself having a glass of wine every evening, try to cut down and limit yourself to just a drink at the weekend. Also, if possible, try to ensure you drink a large glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you have.
Reducing the level of stress in your life will help you stay healthier. Stress affects our bodies ability to regenerate cells and can reduce the capacity for your immune system to record data. There’s a whole host of research out there that shows the negative effects of stress on our bodies and mental health. Often we can’t help the things that cause stress, but we can do things to reduce it. Ensure you have some downtime at the beginning and end of every day. Look into mindfulness techniques such as guided meditation when you feel like you are getting stressed.
Get to Bed
Sleep is vital for the body’s recovery. It supports the regeneration of cells and is essential for the immune system. A lack of sleep can lead to multiple issues and your health is one of the first things to suffer. Creating a healthy sleeping pattern and sticking to it will have a variety of benefits, including supporting your immune system and promoting positive mental health.
When we are anxious or upset, our ability to sleep or eat well can change. We may find we spend longer indoors, eat differently or behave in certain ways. All of these things can lead to a lowered immune system. Try to find the source of the issue and speak to a professional counsellor if you find yourself in a period of feeling emotionally exhausted. If counselling isn’t for you, reach out to your closest friends and family to offload your concerns and worries, and plan a route to feeling better about everything.
The food we eat is fuel for our bodies. We need vitamins, minerals and protein to ensure we have healthy cells and that they regenerate properly. Try to eat whole foods instead of ready meals, if you struggle with time, check out some recipe boxes online. These can help improve our diets and give our immune system the nutrients it needs to keep us healthy.
Strengthen Your Heart
Our heart health matters. It’s essential to keep our heart healthy, as this will increase blood flow around the body and help support overall wellbeing. Regular cardiovascular exercise is a perfect way to keep your heart healthy. Speak to your GP before undertaking any new exercise, but High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to build your fitness and cardiovascular health. If that sounds a bit too daunting, a fast-paced walk can be a good place to start!
Our body is made up of up to 60% water. If we don’t drink enough during the day then our cells start to die, this leads to lowered immune response and contributes to a lack of energy too. You should aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. If you’re struggling with just water add some lemon and lime slices to amp up the flavour.
Sometimes we can’t get enough vitamins through our diet. Taking supplementary vitamins is an excellent way of supporting our immune system. Vitamin A, C and D will all help keep your body fighting fit. Make sure you check in with your doctor or nutritionist, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are on any medication.
We’re All in This Together
We know things may seem a little crazy right now and the change in routine, negative news stories and other factors can all play a part in a lowered immune system. You may not be exercising as much or eating as well, you may also be feeling worried or down because of the current situation. Many of us are missing our closest friends and family and that can also impact our mood, mental health and ultimately our immune system.
It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary and we’re all in this together. Take care of yourself, be mindful of your mental and physical wellbeing and ensure that you give your immune system the best chance with these simple tips.