Your immune system is incredibly important. It identifies infections or injuries and starts responding accordingly. The goal behind the response is to restore the normal function of the body. Often, people try to boost or strengthen their immune system. Thinking that a strong immune system is good for your body is a terrible misconception. If your immune system starts responding to every little thing, it might start attacking your body’s cells. Instead, you want a balanced immune system.
Many people take vitamin and other supplements in an attempt to boost their body’s immunity. Sadly, these do not always work. The immune system is very complex and there’s a lot that we do not know about it. But, there are a few lifestyle and diet changes you can make to protect your immune system. Here’s a look at what you can do to balance your system and trigger a healthy immune response when required:
1. Watch Your Diet
Since you get almost all your nutrients from the food you eat, following a healthy diet is key. A variety of plant-based foods, such as carrots, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers and more, have antiviral and antimicrobial properties. This means they can help you fight off infections. Berries, carrots and spinach all contain antioxidants that help protect you and your body. Garlic has a compound known as Allicin, which helps reduce inflammation and offers antioxidant benefits as well. Certain herbs and spices like cumin, cinnamon, oregano, cilantro and cloves also have antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It’s also important to consume foods that are rich in zinc, iron, folate and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E. Apricots, citrus fruits, strawberries, carrots and spinach are great sources of vitamins A and C. Consuming a variety of seeds and nuts will ensure that you get a good quantity of protein, zinc and vitamin E in your system. Bananas, peanuts, oats and milk are all good sources of vitamin B6, while fish, poultry, eggs and milk are all sources of vitamin B12.
2. Sleep It Off
Many people often think about immunity-boosting foods, but what you eat isn’t the only thing that affects your body’s immune response. You also need to ensure you get a good night’s rest. Your body heals and restores itself while you sleep. Key immune cells like interleukin, T cells and cytokines are produced and distributed while you sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may not have enough of these cells, which could compromise your immune system’s ability to respond to threats.
3. Control Chronic Conditions
If you suffer from diabetes, heart conditions or asthma, you must keep symptoms of these under control. If you don’t, it could compromise your immune system’s response. Let’s assume somebody with type-2 diabetes is unable to properly manage their blood sugar levels. This can cause a chronic low-grade inflammatory response, which will weaken the body’s defence system over time. This is why managing these symptoms is essential.
4. Don’t Stress
When something stresses you out, your body produces the hormone cortisol. This hormone stops your immune system from responding immediately, giving you time to react to an immediate stressor. But, if you’re constantly stressed out, you’ll have constantly elevated levels of cortisol, which blocks your immune system from responding in time to potential threats. There are many different ways to manage stress, including practising meditation and simply laughing every day.
Building and balancing immunity is about more than just having a glass of hot water in the morning or swallowing multivitamin tablets every day. To ensure your immune system is operating at its best possible capacity, you need to eat right, sleep well and try and stay as stress-free as possible.