Your immune system is the main barrier in preventing harmful pathogens from entering your body. An easy way to strengthen it is by looking at what you do every day and making some small lifestyle changes. We’ve put together some tips to help you with this.
Signs of a weak immune system
You’re likely to know if you have a weak immune system. You’ll experience recurrent infections, such as lingering coughs and colds that you can’t fight off, or that reappear just when you think you’re getting better. If this is you, perhaps a more conscious effort to strengthen your immune system is needed. It’s hard to break the cycle once your immune system is weakened to this point. Repeated infections damage your body’s natural defences further each time, meaning your body is less and less able to respond and recover. The effectiveness of your immune system is influenced by many factors that affect your body and its health as a whole. Psychological and emotional problems, stress, poor diet, malnutrition and a sedentary lifestyle can all result in lowered immune system function.
Ways to strengthen your immune system
If you feel that your immune system needs some help — perhaps because you’re run down, unwell or just getting older — then the good news is that there’s plenty you can do. Commit to a healthier lifestyle for a better working immune system. You’ll find that the rest of your body benefits, too. Here are some steps you can take to achieve this:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low in saturated fat and refined sugars
- Increase fibre intake to feed and increase levels of good bacteria, in order to have a balanced gut microbiome
- Exercise regularly
- Control your blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
- Get enough sleep
- Don’t smoke
- Foods to help with immunity
Following on from the first bullet point, diet can be a great way to develop better immunity. The immune system requires a number of particular nutrients to function properly. These include vitamin C and D as well as minerals such as zinc and selenium. By eating the right, nutrient-packed foods you can get such nutrients and give your immune system a lift. These foods are also rich in fermentable fibre which feeds your good gut bacteria. Try to add the following immune strengthening foods into your diet when you’re feeling low:
- Oats and barley
- Garlic (raw if you can bear it!)
- Broccoli and spinach (packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants)
- Selenium-rich shellfish
- Omega-3 fat-containing salmon, mackerel and herring
- Zinc-rich foods, such as beef, pork, poultry or dairy products
- Vitamin A-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots
- Vitamin C-rich foods, such as kiwi and citrus fruits
To summarise, if you are susceptible to illness or not, try to incorporate some of these tips into your lifestyle. They are easy to do and even choosing just a few of these to include in your routines will help with immunity.
Diet is a key area to focus on that doesn’t involve too much effort, a nice way to achieve this is doing some simple swaps such as using sweet potatoes over regular ones.
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