What Can You Do for Your Immunity While Staying at Home?
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how vital the role of our immune systems is in fighting disease.
When our immune system functions perfectly and we’re healthy, we tend to take it for granted and forget how crucial it is for our wellbeing.
Without immunity, we would continuously fall ill, as all the microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria would have free reign over our bodies.
A weak immune system means that we are more likely to catch viruses and frequent colds and deal with issues such as slow healing wounds, anemia, lethargy, and fatigue.
The immune system includes our skin, mucus, gut, and lymph systems, which recognize the alien cells attacking our bodies and fight them. To give our body the protection it needs, we must keep our immune system in excellent working order.
So, what can we do to support and strengthen our immune systems while staying at home?
A High-Quality Diet
A well-balanced, high-quality diet can do wonders for your immunity and your overall health. It will ensure the diversity of your gut flora, essential for your body’s immune system, and many other aspects of your health as well.
The food you eat is the source of micronutrients that our bodies need to function correctly. Some micronutrients are especially important in maintaining your immune function – vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and B12, folic acid, beta carotene, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iron. We should be aware that our daily needs change over the course of our lives.
Eating more whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, will boost your immunity and your overall health. Try to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, while cutting back on trans-fats, processed foods, red meat, and sugar.
If you suspect that your diet is not providing you enough essential micronutrients, taking a daily vitamin or mineral supplement may provide your immune system with the support it needs to be in good shape.
Physical activity and exercise are the pillars of healthy living.
Being physically active improves your cardiovascular health, reduces blood pressure, and helps you maintain a healthy weight, protecting you from various diseases.
It also contributes to your immune system, increasing its resilience, so that your body can fight off any infection.
As it enables good circulation, regular exercise helps substances and cells of the immune system to move through your body without any interference, and do their job effectively.
A general recommendation for adults is to have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise during the week. Strength training is recommended too, at least twice a week.
Staying at home doesn’t have to be a reason not to exercise regularly, as there are many great ways you can stay fit by setting up your own home gym.
Learn to De-Stress
As there is a close link between your body and your mind, a variety of diseases are related to the effects of emotional stress.
And while regular physical activity can be one of the ways to combat the everyday stress that you might be facing, there are some other activities that you may find beneficial too.
One such activity is meditation, which can lower your cortisol levels, calm you down, and reduce your anxiety, as well as lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Mindfulness – a practice of purposely focusing your attention at the present moment, without any interpretation or making judgments – is known to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. By concentrating on here and now, you are less likely to ruminate on your past or worry about your future, so you can find more enjoyment in the activities you’re practicing.
Many mobile apps, such as Headspace, Calm, and Breethe, can make it easier for you to master this technique, strengthen your immunity, and improve your physical and mental health.
Improve Your Sleep
To boost your immunity, consider making some lifestyle changes that can help your immune system. For starters, German researchers determined that sound sleep improves your immune T cells, which your body needs to fights against intracellular pathogens, such as flu viruses, HIV, cancer, and herpes cells.
A good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing in many other ways, too. Hence, the first step towards improving your lifestyle habits is by reflecting on your sleeping patterns.
To experience all the benefits of catching zzz’s, aim for establishing a steady sleep-wake cycle and getting 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep each night.
If your sleeping habits are nowhere near perfect, you may need time to adapt to the new schedule. A sleeping time ritual that will enable your body and mind to wind down can be helpful.
Think about the activities that you find calming and relaxing – it may be drinking a cup of your favorite herbal tea, a pampering bath, or writing a gratitude diary, whatever brings a nice closure to and sets the right tone to the end of your day.
Ditch Bad Habits
While following the tips above will be beneficial for your immune system, your health, and your mood, it can hardly eradicate the adverse effects of certain bad habits you may have developed before and might be continually assaulting your body.
The first habit you must ditch to improve your immune system is smoking.
Smoking increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions, which are either fatal or cause long-term damage to your health.
If you’re a bit too much on the chubby side, try to maintain healthy body weight, within a normal BMI range. Obesity negatively influences immune response to infections – studies reported obesity to be an independent risk factor for increased mortality following infection with the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle and following general health guidelines is the best way to keep your immune system strong and healthy.