We’ve learned many lessons during the COVID-19 outbreak so far, and one of the most important one is how crucial it is to have a healthy immune system. In a way, it functions like our body’s operating system—and just like our smartphones or computers, any weakness in the system can lead to a total shutdown.
You can better fight off viral diseases with a healthy immune system, but the rigors of daily living sometimes get in our way. Factor in the overwhelming stress of living through a pandemic and our immunity may not be operating at its optimum best.
Our immune system consists of a cellular network that runs throughout our bodies. There are two types of cells in this network. Innate immune cells sound the alarm when a foreign substance enters our bodies, and our immune response kicks in to fight off the invaders—in the case of COVID-19, it’s the virus. Once that’s done, adaptive immune cells serve as a kind of cleanup crew to rid your body of the virus or other harmful organisms. You return to full health, and your immune system has done its job properly.
Some factors that can alter the strength of your immune system. Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, can interfere with immunity. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, pose a unique challenge of mistaken identity, where the immune system is almost too finely tuned, and it thinks your own bodily tissues are foreign matter and attacks them.
Pregnancy also causes the immune system to work overtime protecting mom and baby, which can lead to lower immunity. People who are either very young or very old may be more susceptible to infection; children may not have a fully mature immune system, while older adults may have lowered immunity due to age or underlying medical conditions. Finally, steroids or medication for autoimmune disorders may also put you at higher risk for colds, cases of flu, or other immunity-related health issues.
Most of those conditions may be out of your control, but there are several things you can do to improve your immunity. If you want to know how to keep your immune system healthy—not just during a global virus outbreak, but at any other time as well—try adopting some of these smart strategies.
Don’t Let the Invaders In
When it comes to a healthy immune system, prevention is the best medicine. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with warm water and soap, or use hand sanitizer if water isn’t available. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if you’ve been around sick people or out in public—you’re essentially giving germs free entry into your body. And stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing, releasing infected droplets into the air—this is why we are urged to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.
There are many health-related reasons you shouldn’t smoke. In regards to your immunity, smoking puts wear and tear on your lungs, and in this weakened state, there’s a higher risk for respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Plus, smoking compromises the immune system so it can’t function as it should—smokers are ill more frequently than nonsmokers.
Get Plenty of Rest
It’s absolutely critical to get enough sleep for your overall health, and that holds true for our immune system, which is still hard at work even when we’re not awake. For most adults, that means getting seven to nine hours of shut eye each night. Even if you only get the minimum of seven hours, it’s beneficial: One study indicated that people who slept that long were four times less likely to catch a cold compared to others who slept less.
If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure you’re not eating or drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages for at least three hours before bedtime, and power off TVs, laptops, and smartphones at least an hour before. Create a sleep routine, which could entail taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, which will help your body wind down and rest, and make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature and free of ambient light that could keep you awake.
Eat the Rainbow
Your immune system thrives on vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, so stick to a diet of whole, nutritious foods. Fruits and vegetables, especially those vibrant in color, are rich in nutritional value. Minimally processed foods, including produce, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats such as olive oil, are ideal building blocks for a healthy diet.
Also, the importance of maintaining a healthy gut has been discussed more often in recent years, and as it turns out, this area is home to 80 percent of the immune system. In addition to the nutrients from whole foods, nourish your gut with probiotics from fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha. When your immune system doesn’t get the fuel it needs, it will become depleted. A well-rounded diet allows you to fight off viral diseases with a healthy immune system.
Get Your Exercise
You don’t need to be a world-class athlete for your immune system to reap the benefits of physical activity. One study found that people who did moderate activity such as walking, jogging, or swimming five days a week cut their risk of getting a cold almost in half, compared to people who didn’t exercise as frequently. A satisfying workout is also beneficial for the last immunity-boosting tip….
Lessen Your Stress
You may think it’s impossible to reduce stress during a pandemic, but relaxation techniques such as meditation, tai chi, or deep breathing can bolster your immunity system. Stress hormones can weaken the immune response, so when you feel frazzled, you’re a prime candidate for infection. Plus, when you are stressed, you probably aren’t getting the sleep, exercise, or nutritional foods you need.
If you need immunity support, contact Aspire Regenerative today. Regenerative medicine focuses on cell and tissue restoration, so your body—including your immune system—functions at its optimal level. If you’re asking how to keep your immune system healthy, Aspire Regenerative can help you find the answers.