Sometimes, you can’t help but feel the world is falling apart.
Every few years, society is confronted by a new illness of seemingly pandemic proportions.
No one can make themselves entirely immune to sickness. What we can do is make sure we have taken proper care of our immune system, and given ourselves the best fighting chance to combat sickness.
We wanted to take an opportunity with this post to remind you of a few ways you can make sure you are taking proper care of your body’s defense system.
Exercising isn’t just about losing weight or gaining muscle.
One of the most common misconceptions about exercise is that it is only beneficial for trimming your fat or bulking up.
Exercise actually helps us in a wide variety of ways. For one thing, it can really boost your immune system.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting you take up powerlifting! The simple act of going for a daily walk can be enough to really help strengthen your body’s defenses.
As we exert energy, our blood flow accelerates and our breathing becomes deeper and more regular. Increased blood flow circulates our white blood cells much quicker around the body, so they can detect invaders far sooner than usual. Deeper breathing can also help flush bacteria out of our lungs and airways.
Our body temperature rises as we exercise. There is definitely a case to be made that this could help fight off infections – similar to what happens when your body gets a fever.
Finally, exercise reduces the release of one particular hormone – the stress hormone…
Stress doesn’t just give you anxiety – it weakens your immune system.
Stress feels like a weight on our mind, and the consequent anxiety feels like pressure on our chest.
What many don’t realize is that it is also a burden on the immune system, both directly and indirectly.
Directly: As we become more stressed, stress hormones are released, and our ability to fight off antigens is reduced. This makes us far more susceptible to infections.
Indirectly: The more stressed we are, the more likely it is that we will attempt to compensate with unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking and drinking – vices that also reduce the effectiveness of our immune system.
Stress can also drive the desire for another vice… sugar.
Sugar doesn’t just challenge your weight – it can also pose problems for your immune system.
We are all guilty of “stress eating”, reaching for a candy bar to take the edge off when life gets a bit hectic.
And, sugar really does “take the edge off.” Sugar consumption causes the body to release dopamine – the purveyor of our “feel-good” sensations.
However, while sugar may cause us to feel good in the short term, it can hold us back from feeling good in the long term.
Too much sugar restrains the immune system from going on the attack against invasive bacteria.
If you find yourself craving something sweet, try turning to a citrus fruit like an orange or a tangerine. In fact, many citrus fruits (lemons, limes, grapefruit) really help boost our immune system as they are so high in Vitamin C.
It’s important to know what vitamins boost your immune system, and where you can find them.
Vitamin C is very effective in boosting our immune system as it is thought to increase the production of white blood cells – the cells that detect invaders. Along with citrus fruits, it can also be found in sweet potatoes, tomatoes and red bell peppers.
Vitamin B6 is also incredibly helpful in fighting off infections. Make sure you’re getting enough B6 to keep your T cell count high. These are the cells that direct our immune system, making sure that it responds appropriately to infection. B6 is found in chickpeas and also cold water fish, such as tuna and salmon.
Finally, the potent antioxidant, Vitamin E. Antioxidants have the ability to destroy free radicals – thus protecting our cells and tissues from being compromised. Vegetable oil, spinach, broccoli and various nuts are great sources of Vitamin E.
There are plenty of actions you can take to boost your immune system in your waking hours… but don’t forget about sleep!
The more sleep you get, the less likely it will be that you will succumb to an infection.
There are proteins that your immune system releases when you sleep – these are called cytokines. When you have an infection or inflammation, certain cytokine levels need to rise.
Simply, if you don’t get enough sleep, these proteins can’t be produced in the numbers they need to, which leads to a much greater risk of infection.
Remember, the ideal amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours a night.
Give yourself the best chance to stay healthy by keeping your immunity strong..
Take your life in your hands and make changes today to help your immune system become the best it can be!
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