We all want to make sure our immune system is working at its best – but how do we do that?
✴️✴️ First, reduce infection risk. Follow social distancing, stay home, wash your hands regularly and well! ✴️✴️
The immune system is a defence network that identifies, targets and destroys invading pathogens (bacteria, viruses or toxins). You might think of the circulating white blood cells as knights on horseback, seeking out and killing marauding invaders. The organs of the immune system, such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen and thymus produce and activate white blood cells, and filter dead cells out of the circulatory system. These are the “fortresses” from which the knights advance. That’s why you can sometimes feel these structures more prominently when you have an infection – raised glands in your sore throat are lymph nodes that are working hard.
So how do you “boost” your immune system? Well, a shot of kale juice isn’t going to make you invulnerable to infection. In order to support the healthy functioning of your immune system, you need to regularly provide it with the right substances and the right environment to do its job properly. That means eating well, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep.
Here are some tips for a healthy immune system:
🍏 Eat well – your immune system needs an array of vitamins and minerals: B (lean meat, poultry and fish, eggs, milk and rice), D (lean meat and fish, eggs, but mainly from sunshine – sunbathe safely!), plus zinc (pulses, meat and fish), omegas (oily fish, olive oil, nuts, onions), and pre- and pro-biotics from wholegrains, pickles and green vegetables.
👟 Exercise – this has the combined benefits of improving general health, weight management, and stress management. Find what suits you best; running, weights, yoga, Pilates, swimming – or best of all, mix it up!
💆♂️ Stress-management – we’re well-designed to cope with short-term stress, but chronic stress depresses immune function. Listen to your own needs and recognise when you need to take a break. Learn strategies to help you cope – a walk in nature, meditation / mindfulness, art, or just a warm bubble bath!
😴 Sleep – so important for health! If you struggle with sleep, try increasing your exercise and reducing food, caffeine and alcohol consumption in the 2-3 hours before bed. Use a relaxing bedtime routine with a milky drink, a warm bath, perhaps some lavender essence – make it like a ritual so your body learns to recognise “sleep signs”.
🍷 Alcohol and nicotine – reduce these or quit them entirely.
Stay safe and stay well!