Good health means a strong immune system which in return protects us from illness & diseases. To function well, our immunity requires balance and harmony. Ever since the pandemic hit in 2020, a number of people started talking about the polypharmacy they have at home for immunity boosting. If it isn’t a list of supplements, it’s a magical immunity drink made of superfoods like ginger, honey, black pepper, seeds, lemon, chili, turmeric, and many more.
There is no magic pill to strengthen our immunity. A healthy immune system is what we need to count on. Remember the first line of defense is choosing a healthy lifestyle. Here are some helpful guidelines to promote healthy living and ensure you have the right amount of nutrients:
We all have stressors in our day-to-day lives. However, if the stress becomes chronic, it can take a toll on our immune system. When the stress hormone cortisol increases in the blood, it will open the door for inflammations which will tire the immune system and prevent it from protecting us properly. High levels of inflammation can also be caused by depression and anxiety- other side effects of high stress. It can also decrease lymphocytes (white blood cells) that help fight off infections. The lower the lymphocyte level is, the more we are at risk of getting infected. Give your mind a beak and find ways to de-stress by meditating, praying, doing yoga, reading, painting, gardening and/or baking.
Good sleep is vital for good health. Sleep is an essential component for building up the body’s immunity and making sure it operates at full capacity. Studies show people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick. Your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is 7-8 hours, for teenagers 9-10 hours, and for children 10+ hours.
Hydration is a key element to maintaining healthy immunity. Our immune system is highly dependent on nutrients in our bloodstream, and our bloodstream is mostly made of water. Staying well hydrated is important to detoxify from foreign invaders and other waste materials. Dehydration will cause muscle tension, low serotonin production, digestive issues, and headaches! Have at least 8-10 cups of water a day- or more if the weather is too hot or if you exercise.
Have you ever imagined that there is a relationship between your genes and your dietary habits?
We all know the benefits of exercising and how it boosts our mood and immunity. Exercising helps flush the bacteria out of the lungs and airways. It also slows down the release of stress hormones. Maintain a moderate exercise program such as playing sports, cycling, or taking a 30-minute walk.
People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier and have stronger immune systems with lower risks of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. A healthy diet combo consists of a variety of veggies, fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, healthy carbs, and fermented foods. All of which help in boosting the immune system. On the other hand, processed foods, saturated unhealthy fats, added sugar, and alcohol will only hurt your immunity. Therefore, swapping processed cookies, donuts, and highly processed baked products & bread with whole-grain bread and clean carbs like millet, wheat, oats, quinoa, and healthy grains will add additional fibers to your diet and reduce unnecessary added sugars.
There is an endless list of foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, and fibers that support the immune system. Vitamin D is found in eggs, fatty fish, fortified dairy, and cereals. (Note: Some require supplementation when levels are too low. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to a professional to prescribe the right dose) Vitamin E can be obtained from almonds, peanuts, and vegetable oils. Swap saturated and trans fats with omega heart-healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Good sources of Zinc are yogurt, cheese, and lean proteins such as chicken breast, fish turkey, meat, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Have them in each meal and spread them throughout the day to get your daily dose of immunity. Check out Right Bite's Convenience Meal Plan.
If you are one of the people who salt their food before tasting them then, you should limit your sodium intake. When preparing your food, reduce salt and high sodium condiments to less than 5g daily or 1 teaspoon. Instead, spice up your dishes with immunity-boosting spices such as ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, and turmeric.
If you rely heavily on caffeinated beverages, try to reduce the ones that draw water out of your system. Instead, opt for Green Tea which is rich in flavonoids and Epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) that enhance the immunity function. It is also a good source of amino acid L-theanine that aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Reducing added sugar from foods and drinks will highly affect your immune system. Drinking 2 sodas (which roughly has the equivalent of 8 tablespoons of sugar) reduces the body’s ability to fight intruders for at least a few hours. Therefore, swap the sugary drinks with herbal teas and water infused with lemon, lime, mint, ginger, apples, or berries.
Last but not least, it is needless to say that you need to limit alcoholic beverages as they impair the immune system by impacting both bacterial and viral infections when lowering the natural defense in the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory system.
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