5 Natural ways to boost your immunity during COVID times
Boost immune system is the natural protection against any disease. However, it becomes weak, as we grow old which in turn contributes to more infections and diseases.
Now, you may wonder how to boost your immune health to help your body fight off illnesses. Well the first line of defense is to opt for a healthy lifestyle. You can follow general health guidelines as a step toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly.
We have listed the 5 ways to boost your immunity.
1. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet contains more plant food, healthy fats, limited sugar, and micronutrients.
Whole plant foods
They are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that give your body the strength to fight against harmful pathogens. Plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, etc help in decreasing inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals. This way whole plant food helps to prevent many health conditions caused due to chronic inflammation like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers.
Besides, plant foods are rich in fibers that feed your gut microbiome, which is a bacteria that helps in improving immunity and prevents harmful pathogens from entering your body through the digestive tract.
Your diet should consist of healthy fat such as olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids, etc. These fats boost your immune system and decrease inflammation.
Olive oil and omega33 fatty acids have very good anti-inflammatory properties which help to decrease the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Also, it helps the body to fight against harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Limit your sugar intake
Now, another great factor related to diet is to limit your sugar intake as added sugars and refined carbs contribute to overweight and obesity. Hence, obesity is linked to many other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, etc.
Limiting your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and prevents the chances of obesity. This ultimately reduces the risk of chronic health conditions. Since we all know that chronic diseases weaken your immune system, curbing added sugars is an important part of an immune-boosting diet.
As per the guidelines issued by the WHO, adults and children should reduce their daily intake of sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. It is recommended to reduce the intake to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day to get additional health benefits.
In addition, ensure you’re getting sufficient amounts of the micronutrients that play an important role in boosting your immune system. These micronutrients include:
Helps in recognizing pathogens.
Sources: chicken, salmon, tuna, bananas, green vegetables, and potatoes
- Helps in the formation of antibodies and speeds up the entire recovery process,
- Boost your immune system
Sources: Citrus fruit, including Gooseberries(Amla) and strawberries, as well as tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach
- Acts as an Antioxidant
- Provides energy to the body and enhances the immune system.
Sources: Almonds, sunflower and safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and spinach
2. Regular Exercise
Moderate exercises regularly can give a boost to your immune system. It helps your immune cells regenerate regularly and reduce inflammation.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends doing 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. So, we have listed some exercises and yoga asanas that can help to maintain a good immune system.
Strength training aims to strengthen the muscles and increase stamina. Training with additional weight on your muscles puts stress on them and your muscles experience micro-tears. These micro-tears are healed quickly by repairing tissues and over time your working muscles become bigger and stronger.
This improves your endurance with day-to-day training and helps you build and maintain a strong immune system. Besides, strength training improves coordination, better cognitive function, and higher bone density.
Dhanurasana is one of the most popular yoga asanas that help boost the immune system. It improves the flow of white blood cells, or WBCs, by applying pressure on the digestive system and acts as a stress booster.
Dhanurasana helps strengthen the digestive system as it puts pressure on the belly which makes your digestive system strong.
How to do:
- Lie down on the floor on your stomach
- Bend your knees.
- Hold the ankles with your palms.
- Now, lift your legs and arms as high as you can and do not lose the grip.
- Look upward.
- Hold the posture for as long as you can.
Vrikshasana (Tree pose)
Vrikshasana also known as tree pose is another best yoga pose for immunity and relaxation. It strengthens your spine and improves your nerve-muscle coordination. It fills your entire body with energy and increases your stamina.
How to do:
- First of all, stand straight and bend your right knee.
- Place your right leg on the inner thigh of your left leg
- Now, raise your arms over your head and keep your back straight.
- Hold for a few breaths
- Exhale and take the initial position.
- Now, do the same process with your left leg.
Tadasana improves the nervous system and is one of the most effective yoga asanas to increase immunity. Tadasana keeps your posture good and helps to prevent health problems like back pain, spine injuries, etc.
How to do:
- Stand straight and keep your back straight
- Now, bring your palms together.
- Inhale and take your arms up with your palms facing downward
- Look up and hold for 5-10 seconds
- Repeat the exercise 1-2 times.
3. Stay Hydrated
The human body is made up of about 60% water. However, the figure may vary according to the age, and composition of the body. So, the clear elixir of life which is water is important for our body and we can’t survive for long without it. Water is vital as it provides support to your immune system by increasing the movement of a fluid known as lymph.
Lymph is made up of water. It carries important infection-fighting immune cells around your body and helps remove toxins, waste, debris, abnormal cells, and pathogens from the body and transports infection-fighting white blood cells or WBCs throughout the body.
When you are not hydrated properly, the lymphatic movement slows down, which may lead to a weaker immune system. Dehydration may also lead to muscle tension, headaches, and digestive issues in the body.
Also, you constantly lose water through breathing and your urine and bowel movements. Hence, it becomes important to provide a sufficient amount of water to the body to help support your immune system. Hydration is also very important for detoxification pathways and to out any foreign invaders and other waste materials.
4. Get enough sleep
Our immunity system releases certain cytokines while we are sleeping. The production of these cytokines increases with infection or inflammation as they help to combat illness. If you are not having enough sleep, the body may decrease the production of these protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies. Due to this, people may suffer from sickness and may experience sleep disturbance or overall poor sleep quality. The body consumes a lot of energy to fight against viruses and eliminate pathogens which means there is often less energy for other activities. Hence, getting more sleep becomes paramount to healing the body. It also helps in conserving energy to fight against diseases.
All these factors related to sleep makes it an essential component of building up the immune system of a person. It also ensures that the body is operating at full capacity when healthy.
You can follow the given tips to ensure that the immune system remains the same.
- You should maintain a regular bedtime.
- Naps should be taken to reduce daytime fatigue but not on a regular basis as they reduce restful night sleep.
- Cut down on alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, and caffeine, etc at night as they affect your sleep negatively.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, candies, and desserts should also be avoided as they can worsen sleep quality.
- Sleep in a comfortable, dark, quiet, and cool environment.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention prescribes the following hours of sleep per day depending on the age group.
Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)1
No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
9–12 hours per 24 hours
8–10 hours per 24 hours
7 or more hours per night
65 years and older
5. Reduce Stress
Now you might wonder how could stress affect the immune response? The answer is that stress descends the sympathetic fibers from the brain into both secondary lymphoid tissues. These fibers influence immune responses by releasing a variety of substances and binding them to receptors in white blood cells.
Stress decreases the lymphocytes which help to fight off infection. As the lymphocyte level drops in the body, the risk for viruses, common cold, and other health problems increases, which ultimately affects the immune system. Hence, you should focus on minimizing stress to keep your immune system healthy.
The given stress reduction strategies relieve the pressure on your immune system and can be done easily at home.
10 minutes to 15 minutes of meditation every day can lower your stress and reduce cortisol levels and inflammation in the body. Meditation helps to prevent the breakdown of your chromosomes that leads to cancer and premature aging.
Yoga is highly beneficial in lowering down stress hormone levels. It calms your nervous system and reduces inflammation. For example, deep breathing exercise helps to boost your resistance to infection while inverted poses circulate fluid through your lymphatic system and help to remove toxins from the body.
Many lifestyles and dietary changes such as reducing sugar intake, taking a proper diet, working out daily, etc can help to strengthen your immune system. These changes in your life can increase the body’s resistance to fighting pathogens and viruses. You can add these healthy ways to your daily routine to boost your immune system.