The immune system is our protector as it defends us from viruses, bacteria, infections, and various diseases. However, our immunity is able to protect us only if we work hard to strengthen it. An increasing number of people have problems with weakened immunity it’s important to address strategies that help resolve this issue and lead to a healthy and strong immune system.
Getting Enough Sleep
We have become a sleep-deprived society. Most people do not get the necessary seven to nine hours of sleep. It’s needless to mention a regular sleep pattern is nonexistent. Getting enough sleep is vital for a strong and healthy immune system, studies confirm. A study from the Journal of Experimental Medicine found a mechanism which links sleep to the functioning of the immune system. Good night’s rest can boost the effectiveness of certain specialized immune cells called T cells. These particular cells contribute to the immune response of the body when a potentially dangerous foreign body enters.
T cells have the potential to recognize pathogens after which they activate the release of integrins (a type of protein whose purpose is to enable T cells to attach to their targets). Bearing in mind that sleep has a positive impact on these cells it is crucial to make certain lifestyle changes. Get seven to nine hours of sleep and make sure you establish a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same time.
Change your Diet and Exercise Regularly
Nutrition is vital for our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, unhealthy dietary patterns indicated by trans fats, sugar-laden products, and heavy intake of processed foods are widely popular today. These foods do not supply our body with much-needed nutrients; it needs to remain healthy. Overweight or obesity, increased diabetes and heart disease risk, and a weakened immune system are just some of many problems linked to unhealthy nutrition. A growing body of evidence confirms that nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses. Deficiency of various nutrients results in altered immune response such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, and vitamins A, C, E, and B6. It’s also important to mention that besides malnutrition, overnutrition and obesity can also weaken the immune system.
The key is to enrich the diet with nutrients that strengthen the immune system and amp up its defenses against bacteria, viruses, and whatnot. Bear in mind that a well-balanced diet goes hand in hand with regular exercise. After all, exercise has a direct impact on humoral and the cellular immune system. Your body needs both to function properly and develop immune defenses.
For a healthy and strong immune system, your diet should include the following:
- Citrus fruits
- Red bell peppers
- Green tea
- Sunflower seeds
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Consider your Hygiene Habits
Everything we do can either strengthen the immune system or weaken it. Hygiene plays a huge role here as it is the first line of defense against germs and other invaders which would wreak havoc on our immunity. Instead of reacting to symptoms of infection, it’s better to protect it, and the best way to do so is to modify hygiene habits. It is highly recommended to wash hands with soap and water before handling food and after using the bathroom. Furthermore, it’s practical to cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing or to simply cough in elbow rather in your hand. Make sure you wash and bandage all cuts and avoid picking wounds.
We rarely take the time to think about the influence of the environment on our health and wellbeing. The truth is that our environment has a substantial impact on the functionality of the immune system. In fact, environmental interaction with the immune system may lead to undesirable effects of two principal types. For instance, if environmental hazards succeed in damaging the immune system, it can cause potentially life-threatening immunodeficiency. Air pollution, exposure to harsh chemicals in products we use in household, work-related exposure to various chemicals are all a major threat to our immune system. To strengthen immunity, it is important to reduce exposure to environmental influences. Start by ditching products with harsh ingredients and opting for natural alternatives. Spend more time outdoors, especially in areas with fresh, clean air.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Psychological and physical health are connected and influence one another. Studies confirm that immune system is associated with the functionality of the central nervous system, it appears that they affect one another which could explain why stress, depression, and other similar problems can impair immune response and vice versa. In one study scientists found a consistent association between conscientiousness and a reduced inflammatory response, but others also discovered that emotional and mental health problems alter cell signaling and down-regulate immune responses which could explain why stress can impair our immune system. This topic requires more research in order to elucidate the intriguing relationship between mental health and immune system. When working to strengthen immunity, it is vital to take mental health into consideration too. We tend to overlook our mental health and expect stress, anxiety, and other problems will go away on their own. Instead, we need to find a way to manage stress properly and deal with our emotions and thoughts. There are no rules here. Meditation, yoga, workouts, are just some practices you can adapt to de-stress and improve mental health. Remember, nutrition can help improve mental health as well.
The immune system is influenced by a number of factors, and we need a well-structured plan when trying to strengthen it. In order to boost the immune system, we need to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, manage stress, get enough sleep, and reduce exposure to environmental pollutants and products with harsh ingredients. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is equal to strong immunity.
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- Dimitrov S, Lange T, Gouttefangeas C, et al. Gαs – coupled receptor signaling and sleep regulate integrin activation of human antigen-specific T cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine 2019 Feb;216(3):5147-26. Doi: 10.1084/jem.20181169 http://jem.rupress.org/content/216/3/517
- Chandra RK. Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1997 Aug;66(2):460-3. Doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.2.460S https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9250133
- Jeurissen A, Bossuyt X, Ceuppens JL, Hespel P. The effects of physical exercise on the immune system. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde 2003 Jul 12;147(28):1347-51 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12892009
- Adkinson NF Jr. Environmental influences on immune system and allergic reactions. Environmental Health Perspectives 1977;20:97-103 https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.772097
- Radhakrishnan, R., Kaser, M., & Guloksuz, S. (2017). The Link Between the Immune System, Environment, and Psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 43(4), 693–697. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbx057 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472105/
- D’Acquisto F. (2017). Affective immunology: where emotions and the immune response converge. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(1), 9–19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442367/