Diseases are rampant these days. Everywhere you turn, you find people afflicted with all sort of diseases. These can vary from flu and common viral infections to absurd diseases unheard of till now. Every few months a rare new disease is found which is making rounds and doctors and scientists issue all kinds of statements on how they have to find a new cure for hitherto unknown, unseen new strain of some random virus. Till then people just keep dropping dead. Diseases were not unheard of in the past. But they would stay within isolated pockets of the world earlier. But with the shrinking world there are no longer such pockets and diseases spread from one corner of the world to other within days. And lo and behold! more dead people. If you find yourself grateful for not being strapped to a hospital bed because of the above mentioned afflictions, then a major character in the play responsible for this wonderful ‘luck’ of yours is your immunity system. It is a system that naturally defends you from external agents through certain triggers that gets it into motion and fight battles for you withing the war ground that is your body. While you cannot work consciously with this system, it is possible for you to intervene in order to help maintain this system in top condition. While everybody can get sick time and again, boosting your immunity ensures that you are in a better shape to fight off whatever it is that affects you. So, here are ten ways in which you can improve your immunity levels.
10. Keep your hands clean
Make sure that your hands are always clean. While this doesn’t contribute directly to improving your immunity, it goes a long way in placing a check to the spread of common infections. It is suggested that washing your hands every once in a while helps to clear it of common bacteria and viruses. Ensure that your hands are clean after you sneeze, cough, use the bathroom, touch infected people or use public spaces. Also remember to stay away from antibacterial soaps, hand washes and gels because they increase the chances of bacteria developing resistance to them. Instead opt for alcohol based gels. Wash your hands with soap and warm water at least for twenty seconds to properly clean it.
Include probiotics in your diet. They aid in fast digestion and boost your immunity by maintaining a healthy digestive system. They provide a suitable environment for the growth of good bacteria and these bacteria help indirectly in boosting certain aspects of immunity. Assimilation of all the nutrients required by your immunity system takes place and you have a healthy gut and a healthy disposition. Probiotics are supplements of living microorganisms into the body through certain food items. A few probiotic supplements which can be taken include curd and yogurt but beware of most products available in the market under the tag of probiotics as their quality can be inconsistent. Many immunity boosting products claim to increase the number of immune cells. Immune cells are part of the immune system and are of very different kinds, which are these cells that you need to increase? Because the cells are pathogen specific and if there are no pathogens then there is no point in increasing the number of these cells.
Absorb adequate amount of sunlight daily. This does not mean you have soak yourself in the sun till you get sunburned but just that you acquire the necessary levels of Vitamin D in the body. Ten to fifteen minutes in the summers without sunscreen will be sufficient and a bit of extra sun time in the winters should put you in the right path. Though we do not need any particular incentives for soaking up sun in the winters anyway but all the same. This is necessary because very few foods actually contain Vitamin D and hence external supply might prove inadequate. Vitamin D is an essential component required for the proper functioning of the immunity system. Just make sure to get enough sun time to keep you going.
7. Keep away from alcohol
Excessive consumption of alcohol can impair the immunity system and increase the chances of lung infections. While it is not necessary to completely abstain from alcohol, drinking in moderation can help the immunity system to carry out its function without serious disruptions.
I am not even kidding here. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent, which means it is effective against a large number of pathogens of diverse forms. It is a serious immune booster too. Garlic has been found effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi. That is some serious level of cool. They also apparently keep you safe from vampire attacks. Go ahead and make it part of your diet already! Do keep in mind though that a key active ingredient in garlic becomes ineffective when heated. So add garlic to the dish just before serving and do not cook it, if you are looking to boost your immunity.
Take care of your diet. Include lots of fruits and vegetables to ensure your daily dose of immune boosting supplements. A wide range of fruits and vegetables aid in increasing your immunity levels. Especially opt for food stuff rich in Vitamin C, E, B6, A, D, Folic Acid, Selenium, Zinc and Iron. These would be for Vitamin C- green leafy vegetable and citrus fruits; for Vitamin E-Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, broccoli, spinach; for Vitamin B6- potatoes, chickpeas, lean chicken breast, bananas; for Vitamin A- carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin; for Vitamin D- apart from sunlight, milk, orange juice and cereals; for Folic Acid- green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and whole grain products; for Selenium- barley, garlic, broccoli, sardines and tuna; for Iron- chicken, turkey, seafood, beans and broccoli; for Zinc- poultry, oysters, crab, baked beans, yogurt and chickpeas.
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is problematic on different layers. If you smoke, especially keep away from the tobacco smoke. It discredits basic immune defenses and increases the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in everyone and middle ear infections in kids. Smoking affects you even if you aren’t an active smoker. Convince people around you who smoke to quit as you being a passive smoker are under risk of infections.
3. Decrease your stress levels
Increased stress levels have been shown to have a negative effect on the immune system. Stress overload can increase the levels of cortisol hormone in the body which suppresses immune function. Increased stress can affect various aspects of immune function. While there are different kinds of stress like physical, emotional, social and psychological, the degrees of their affecting the immune system varies. It would be suggested to practice meditation and yoga to decrease your stress levels.
Exercise aids increase in immunity levels big time. Exercise induces the body to release hormones that are favorable for a properly functioning immune system. There is a temporary increase in immunity fighting cells with each episode of exercise. People who exercise regularly are known to be less prone to seasonal infections. Exercise promotes good circulation and helps the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps in reducing stress levels of the body which in turn will be a positive impetus to the immune system.
Adequate amount of sleep is a must in order to have a properly functioning immune system. Sleep deprivation too leads to the production of cortisol in the body which suppresses immune functions. It can also lead to inflammation in the body. While the amount of sleep required varies from person to person. Catching seven to nine hours sleep for an adult though is generally considered as key to good health.