Our immune system is responsible for keeping us healthy and free from diseases or infections. It fights bacteria, viruses and cancer.
You must have heard of vaccines: these are compounds that have been developed to strengthen our immune system to fight against specific infectious organisms. In addition to vaccines, we can strengthen our immune system by various other things:
1. Eating well
Eating well simply means eating a diet that is rich in proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables. These all together provide our bodies with much needed vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc, all that our immune system needs to become strong. In addition, it is important to restrict consumption of some things like: saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and excess salt.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight and obesity can affect our immune system and make it slow. This is linked to the inflammation that usually accompanies excessive weight. The fat calls also produce certain inflammatory hormones, so the more weight you carry, the weaker is your immunity. Maintaining a healthy weight involoves not juts eating right, but also being physically active, getting enough sleep and being free from stress.
3. Be physically active
Regulr physical activity helps our bodies remain fit. It improves our sleep and helps us maitina a healthy weight. Studies show that exercise improves the blood and lymh flow throughout the body. Its also seen that the effectiveness of the immune cells lasts upto 3 hours after completion of the exercise. A study that came out in 2022 of covid patients concluded that people who exercised regularly, had lower hospitalisations and it accounted for fewer deaths from covid.
4. Quit smoking
Cigarette smoking has thousands of different chemicals many of which can affect our immune systems. Recent research also shows that smoking can lead to autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease. It is well documented that smoking causes certain types of cancer, thus should be avoided completely.
5. Avoid too much alcohol
Research shows that excessive alcohol consumption, directly suppresses the immune system. Too much alcohol delays the immune response of the body in fighting pathogens. In the lungs, alcohol consumption can lead to destruction of the immune cells, thereby increasing the risk of respiratory diseases. Alcohol also destroys our good gut bacteria and causes inflammation of the gut. Both these further affect our immune system.
6. Get enough sleep
Studies show that not getting enough sleep can affect our immune system. People who do not get enough sleep fall sick more often, and also take longer to recover from an illness. Our bodies release certain proteins known as cytokines and also certain antibodies during sleep. If we do not sleep enough, the production of these drops, thereby leading to increased risk of infections. Long term lack of good quality and quantity of sleep is also related to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It is important to remember that quality of sleep is as important as quantity.
To know more about how to improve your immunity, get in touch with me, Kanupriya Khanna, one of the best Dietitians and Nutritionists in Delhi.