5 Ways to Keep Your Immune System Strong
A strong immune system keeps sickness at bay. Unfortunately, with the stress and hustle and bustle of modern living, our immune system may get compromised, leaving us vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Get Enough Sleep
Some may belittle the role sleep plays in our lives, thinking that it only replenishes energy used during the day. However, do you know its benefits go beyond that? “When we sleep, our body produces chemicals and hormones to repair damaged cells,” says Dr Derek Li, General Practitioner, Raffles Medical. “Our immune system also produces proteins and antibodies to fight off infection and reduce inflammation during sleep, helping us recover faster.”
While the ideal amount of sleep differs between age groups; most adults require about seven to eight hours of sleep. Check out our tips to help you get better quality sleep.
Quit Smoking and Drinking
Smoking causes serious health conditions and weakening your body’s immune response, making you open to infections. Drinking excessive alcohol also damages your immune system function – the damage increases in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed.
That said, not all alcohol are bad. Red wine contains antioxidants, and drinking it in moderation benefits your heart and raises healthy cholesterol.
Get Enough Nutrition
Amidst our hectic lifestyle, it’s tempting to substitute proper meals for fast food or quick bites. However, you will also miss out on nutrients like zinc, iron selenium, protein and vitamins A, B6, C and E, which keeps your body functioning and the immune system strong,
If there’s no time for a proper meal, consider the following recipes:
- Wholesome sandwich – wholemeal / multigrain grain bread with lean protein, topped up with spinach, tomatoes, and grilled hot peppers
- A quick whip up at home - hummus (made with chickpeas/beans, olive oil and lemon juice) as a dip for your carrot, celery sticks or spread on your toast.
- A handful of nuts and seeds and citrus fruits
- Low-fat Greek yoghurt, with berries and chia seeds
These foods are rich in the above vitamins and minerals which are essential to boost our immunity.
If you feel that you are still not getting adequate nutrition, you may wish to take dietary supplements or antioxidants. These will help you meet your daily nutritional needs for a well-maintained immune system.
It’s no secret that regular moderate exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and keeps your bones and muscles strong. It also gives your immune system a boost and slows down the release of stress hormones, reducing your chances of getting sick.
If you do not have the time to hit the gym, you should at least squeeze in some physical activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Help out with the household chores where possible. Or, if buses are part of your daily travel, alight one stop earlier on your way home and walk the remaining distance. These may seem insignificant, but their health benefits add up over time.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Water keeps our body functioning at optimum levels, including our immune system. It also flushes toxins and waste products out of our body through urination. When we are dehydrated, our body is unable to remove the toxins, which accumulates in our body and weakening our immune system. Although each person’s water needs depend on many health factors, we should drink at least two to three litres of fluid each day as a general rule of thumb.
Reviewed by Dr Derek Li, General Practitioner, Raffles Medical