Our immune system plays an essential role in our body and is responsible for protecting us from harmful substances, preventing infections and illness, as well as destroying bacteria, viruses, fungus, toxins, and parasites. Simple steps such as being physically active, eating a balanced diet, maintaining good hygiene practices, and reducing stress, can have an impact on our lives.
Here are 3 simple but effective steps we should all be taking - now more than ever - to keep our immune system healthy and strong.
1. Get plenty of sleep
According to the NHS, sleep helps to support the immune system. A lack of regular healthy sleep can lead to health problems, and, may weaken the immune system's ability to attack bugs and germs, leaving our body more vulnerable to infection and inflammation.
Having trouble sleeping? Here are a few tips that may help you to get a good night's sleep:
- Try to be consistent with your sleep, going to bed and waking up at similar times each day.
- Try to make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment, by making sure you have the right temperature, the room is tidy and clean, with a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow.
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evening by avoiding TV screens, smartphones, and laptops at least two hours before going to bed.
- Take your deserved time to relax. A warm bath or a shower can improve the overall sleep quality.
- Make sure the room is dark in order to help your body release melatonin.
- Eat no less than two hours before sleeping.
2. Stay stress-free
Psychological stress can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health too. High stress levels can lower our body's response to bacteria and viruses, therefore developing inflammation and disorders.
Some tips to help reduce stress:
- Whilst being stuck at home and unable to get to a gym, we recommend that you try to find a moment to fit in some alternative forms of exercise. In recent research by NHS, it has been shown that “moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system, thereby reducing the risk of coughs and colds”.
- With many of us currently working from home, it is ever so important to create a nice working environment, wherever possible, separately from the rest of the home.
- Opt for a balanced diet, full of nutrients.
- Try to sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.
For more advice read also: Stress Awareness Month: How to Look after yourself
3. Get your 5 a day
Take enough sources of vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.
- Vitamin C supports a wide range of processes all over the body, and it plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system.
- Reduce oxidative damage by implementing your diet with Vitamin E. You can find vitamin E in wheat germ oil, almonds, peanut butter, seeds and green leafy vegetables.
- Potassium is one of the most important minerals in our body and it helps the heart muscle work properly. Good sources of potassium include fish, some vegetables and fruits (such as banana and broccoli), nuts and seeds as well as beef and turkey.
- Daily intake of probiotics can boost the immune system and help prevent gastrointestinal symptoms and some illnesses.
For more advice on vitamins & supplements read: 5 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System