Our immunity is our means of protecting us from the bacteria and viruses that float around our world. With strong immunity, we can fight off most attacks on our health before they impact us. While the degree of immunity we enjoy can be affected by genetics, we can also strengthen our defences with some daily habits.
Many behaviours boost your immune system; here, we present eight of the best habits to try.
Minimise unhealthy habits
The number one piece of advice to boost your immunity is to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. While these behaviours offer other health challenges, they also weaken the body’s defences because you require it to deal with the adverse effects of these choices.
Though smoking and drinking would be at the top of any health list, we often forget the impact of stress. Excessive stress is as harmful as these other unhealthy habits, and we must minimise its effects. Therefore, a balance between life and work and finding ways to unwind is essential for a healthy immune system.
Playing with pets is a great way to reduce stress and decrease cortisol in your system. Cortisol accumulates and leads to the production of cytokines which are known to compromise your immune system. Playing with animals helps dissipate this from your system, so cuddle a dog!
A balanced, healthy diet
While a million and one supplements promise to improve your immunity, everything you need is available in your diet. Eating lots of fruit and veg provide all the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to build its defences. Equally, it will help you maintain a healthy weight, with obesity being another risk factor for weakened immunity.
Sleep is another way to work with your body’s natural means of maintaining your immunity. It is not only about getting a lot of sleep but about getting restful sleep. Getting deep sleep allows our body and mind to recover, leaving us strong enough to cope with the ills of our environment.
Generally, advice from experts suggests that more than seven hours of sleep per night is required to keep our immunity strong.
There was a randomised trial in Japan where young people were given Vitamin D supplements while others were given placebo tablets. Those in the supplement group were about 40% less likely to get flu than the other group. The best source of Vitamin D is sunshine. Therefore, getting out in nature and lapping up the sun’s rays is a great way to boost your immunity. Nature also reduces our stress, so it has a double impact.
While not revolutionary advice, drinking water throughout the day is essential to flush through our system and keep toxins at bay, it is more than just being hydrated; it is the cleansing effect of the water on our systems that help prevent illnesses.
A healthier body is generally better prepared to fend off disease and infection, especially upper respiratory infections like flu or the common cold. While you don’t want to over-exert your body, which can reduce immunity, you do want to do regular aerobic exercise to reduce your chance of illness.
Wash your hands regularly
From our experience of the pandemic, we all know that handwashing is an effective defence against bacterial and viral infections. Therefore, washing after you have been outside, been to the bathroom, and generally throughout the day will help maintain your health.
What is less well-known is that working in soil without wearing gloves also helps to strengthen your immune system. Studies from the 80s and 90s suggested we were over-sanitized and that this reduced the natural immunity we built up to common illnesses. Those who played in the dirt as children know we have hardiness that others don’t. If you wash your hands when returning to your house, getting your hands dirty is good.
Get your shots
As we age, our immunity naturally wains. Therefore, as we grow older, it is vital to get all the vaccinations offered to help maintain our health. The annual flu shot is necessary as we age, as might other boosters.
There is nothing revolutionary in these hints and tips for building strong immunity. Our bodies are highly predictable. The body thrives if we give them the right food and drink, enough sleep, regular exercise, and access to sunshine. Any bad habit, such as smoking or excess eating, gives our bodies an extra battle to fight. Therefore, live a balanced and healthy life to keep your immunity strong.