6 Top Tips To A Bulletproof Immune System
With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, having a robust immune system has never been more important. We’ve all been told about the practical measures to follow that will help minimise the spread, but just to recap:
- Stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out
- If you do have to go out, practice social distancing by staying at least 1.5m away from others
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, or use a hand sanitiser
- Don’t touch your face, mouth, nose or eyes, especially if you are out and about
- If you feel ill, even if it's just very mild, isolate yourself for 14 days
- If you feel very ill, seek medical advice immediately
These measures will take you a long way to avoiding or restricting the spread of the virus. But the fact is, if you do come into contact with the virus, having a strong immune system is your next best defence. Here are 6 tips to help you optimise your immune system to help keep you healthy and able to fight off viral threats:
1. Don't smoke - this one seems pretty obvious. Smoking damages the cells of the lungs, the very cells that are most susceptible to the SARS Cov-2 virus. Global statistics indicate smokers are 14 times more likely to develop severe symptoms if they contract the virus. Quitting smoking is easier said than done for most smokers, but there is help available. The Quit Program is a great place to start.
2. Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables - Fruits and vegetables have many health benefits:
- They contain many vitamins and minerals needed to keep your immune system strong.
- They contain both soluble and insoluble fibre to keep your gut microbiome healthy and balanced - which scientists tell us is essential for strong and healthy immune function.
- Perhaps the biggest immune benefit of fruits and vegetables is the myriad of phytonutrients they provide. These plant chemicals offer benefits we are just beginning to understand including protection from disease, improved immune system, and reversal of age related health decline.
- Try to get 4 - 6 serves of fresh veggies and 2 -3 serves of fruit each day, spread over your meals and snacks.
3. Exercise regularly - Research just released has revealed that regular exercise appears to reduce the severity of the respiratory symptoms associated with SARS-CoV2. The research looked at a powerful antioxidant made by muscle during exercise that has a protective effect. Exercise in general mobilises your immune system, plus helps improve mental wellbeing which is very important during these time of social distancing and isolation. You don’t need to run marathons or pump iron for hours either. Regular walking or 2 - 3 moderate gym sessions a week quill give you immune system the boost it needs.
4. Maintain a healthy weight - According to several international studies looking at COVID-19 cases, obesity and its associated health issues are strong risk factors for severe respiratory symptoms, even in young people. Reducing your bodyweight, even by 5 - 10% can reduce your risk and strengthen your immune system. Following the previous two tips of regular exercise and a healthy diet is a great place to start.
5. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Alcohol consumption has widespread effects on the immune system. Chronic alcohol consumption has been associated with greater susceptibility to respiratory disease, meaning higher risk of severe symptoms in the event of a COVID-19 infection. The best defence is to abstain from alcohol. But if you do enjoy a drink, 1 - 2 per day is a sensible level.
6. Get adequate sleep. Sleep has become the new cure all. And for good reason. The restorative power of sleep is undeniable, and the debilitating effect of poor sleep is also easily demonstrated. In fact, lack of sleep makes you more likely to pick up an illness like colds or bacterial infections. Adequate sleep helps maintain a strong immune system, reducing your risk of infection or severe symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern if possible.
When it comes down to it, a bit of exercise, moderation of food and alcohol, and a good night's sleep really is the best way to stay healthy.