Ways to Help Support Your Immune System
During this uncertain time due to coronavirus, everyone’s attention is focused on not spreading the illness. We have all heard the advice to practice social distancing and good hygiene. If you are wondering what more you can do to help yourself and your family stay healthy, the answer lies in the immune system. While good hygiene will help, you need your immune system to work properly. Here is some great information about how the immune system works and how you can make sure yours stays strong, even in tenuous times.
Understanding the Immune System
The immune system's job is to defend your body. It protects you against harmful pathogens, including viruses and bacteria. Another job of the immune system is to limit the damage caused by non-infectious issues that affect the body like sunburn and cancer.
The immune system is complex. It includes the cells in your skin, bone marrow, blood, organs, and tissue. All of these components need to be healthy and work in harmony to be at our best. There are steps you can take to help your immune system function to the best of its ability.
Ways to Support Your Immune System
Here are some easy ways to support your immune system:
Everyone gets stressed out sometimes. But, it is crucial to the health of your immune system to keep your stress level under control. News of the virus’ spread can be scary, and, at times, overwhelming. We do not know how long this issue is going to last. This long-term stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol. While this hormone is helpful in short-term situations, it can be harmful if elevated for too long. High cortisol blocks the immune system from doing its job, and your body will have a harder time protecting you from germs.
There are different ways you can help reduce stress.
- Meditation can be helpful to reconnect and check-in with yourself. It can help you observe your emotions, breathing, feelings and, thoughts.
- Journaling can also be a great tool for helping you slow down and check-in with how you are feeling.
- Participating in a favorite activity is another valuable option.
Try different ways to reduce your stress to see what works best for you. Take some time each day to reduce your stress. Be informed, but remember to take breaks from the news. Limit your news intake to just once or twice a day and do not do it right before bedtime.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is key for our bodies to heal and regenerate. During sleep, our bodies produce and distribute immune cells. Cytokines can fight or promote inflammation and T-cells regulate the responses from your immune system. If you do not get enough sleep, you may be more likely to get sick because your defenses are not strong enough.
A study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that young adults with insomnia were more susceptible to the flu. Getting good-quality sleep is important. Turn off electronics one-to-three hours before bedtime to help your brain prepare for sleep.
Getting regular exercise will help your body fight off germs. Physical activity helps to distribute immune cells throughout your body. These cells can then look for more infected or damaged cells. Also, exercise is a great way to manage stress due to the release of endorphins, which helps us feel better. Find something that you enjoy doing and you will be more likely to stick with it.
Studies prove exercise helps. According to a review from Frontiers in Immunology, regular exercise lowers your risk of developing viral and bacterial infections and also chronic diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommend that adults get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or one-hour-and-15 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise each week. You should also engage in strength training at least twice a week. More activity can mean greater results. If you can exercise outside, it can help even more with reducing stress and inflammation.
Eat Well and Hydrate
A healthy diet is crucial for keeping your immune system functioning properly. Make sure to include vegetables and fruits. Many plant-based foods can help fight off infection because of their antimicrobial and antiviral properties. A review from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences concluded that spices such as oregano, clove, thyme, cumin and cinnamon prevent the growth of the different kinds of bacteria that spoil food.
Nutrients you get from your food, such as copper, folate, zinc, selenium and iron plus vitamins C, A, E, B12 and B6 are needed for your immune system to do its job. Water is also a key component for keeping our bodies functioning properly.
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