Keeping your immune system functioning at its best is something you may be more concerned with recently! With the additional threat to health posed by the current global health crisis, your health may be something you are now looking to take greater control of.
Last week we discussed some great ways that you can strive to protect yourself through good hygiene practices. If you missed that post, then click here now to give it a read and discover how you can stay protected!
In addition to ensuring you are being as hygienic as possible during the pandemic, it's also a good idea to do all you can to support the function of your immune system.
Immune System Function
How well your immune system functions can be affected by a number of things. If you are not sleeping well, are stressed out, or don't follow a healthy diet, then you may find you are prone to getting sick, or often feeling run down.
Certain medications can also impact the immune system, and this is something your healthcare professional will always explain to you if you start a new treatment.
The Importance Of Sleep
Getting enough sleep each night is important for a number of reasons — not least of all the health of your immune system! The amount of sleep that we all need is generally the same, with seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night considered to be optimum.
Studies have shown that people who do not sleep well are more likely to get sick than those who enjoy good quality sleep. Additionally, when you are recovering from an illness, the amount of sleep that you get can actually impact the speed of your recovery.
When you are asleep, your immune system causes the release of proteins known as cytokines around the body. If you have an infection or are experiencing inflammation then cytokines can help to address these issues. If you do not get an adequate amount of sleep then this process can be interrupted, which can then hinder how well your body is able to heal itself.
Although the word 'bacteria' can have negative associations, good bacteria is actually an essential component of a healthy immune system.
Good bacteria helps to maintain balance in the gut, and this contributes to the function of the immune system too. Without this balance, our body can be more at risk of danger when exposed to germs and new environments. By keeping the good bacteria topped up, we can help the body to more effectively fight back against germs.
When you are working to improve the presence of good bacteria in the body, you will find it beneficial to include ample probiotic foods in your diet regularly. Probiotics are essentially live bactera, and probiotic foods are those foods that are rich in them!
Great probiotic foods to choose to boost your immune system are yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and kombucha. Some types of cheese may also be considered to be probiotic.
The fermentation process of certain foods is largely where the abundant presence of probiotics comes from. For this reason, fermenting your own foods at home can be a fun way to get more good bacteria into your diet!
You may be surprised to learn that exercising regularly can help to protect your immune system. There are several theories surrounding this concept, with different experts presenting varying opinions.
Some experts have suggested that the rise in body temperature during exercise can be helpful for keeping bacteria under control. This temperature rise could also be attributed with being better able to fight infections.
Exercise can lead to better circulation of antibodies and white blood cells — which are the cells of the immune system. This enhanced circulation can enable illness to be detected more efficiently. However, further research is needed in this area to determine if this can better protect the body from infection.
In addition to giving the immune system a boost, regular exercise is also great for lowering your risk of heart disease, helping you to maintain a healthy weight, and for protecting your mental health. There is so much to be gained from partaking in a consistent exercise plan that it's something we can surely work to do!
If ever there was a time to take better care of your physical and mental health, then this is it!
Looking after your body better enables your body to look after you, and there are so many simple things that you can do to embrace this idea.
Take a moment to assess your diet and lifestyle to determine if you can make some changes to protect yourself and improve your health and wellness. Big changes can be overwhelming — especially with everything else that's going on! Planning several small changes to make can be a good start and soon encourage bigger long-lasting changes!