5 Ways To Boost Your Immunity

Updated: Apr 20

Want to Protect Yourself Against Covid-19 - Strengthen Your Immune System.

In addition to the precautionary measures of good hygiene, washing your hands, social distancing and wearing a mask, you need your bodies’ defenses to be as strong as possible to fight, not just against Covid-19, but any virus. Keeping your immune system healthy year-round is key to preventing infection and disease.

Your immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes, and chemicals that constantly defends your body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins, and bacteria. Some parts of the system act as literal barriers, preventing viruses and bacteria from reaching organs like your brain, while others hunt and remove invaders from your body. Making healthy lifestyle choices by consuming nutritious foods and getting enough sleep and exercise are the most important ways to fortify your immune system. The guidance below can improve your overall physical and mental health.

1. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants.

Nutrition is a critical component of your immune response. Just like poor nutrition can deteriorate your immune system, quality nutrition can be the foundation for strength.

Balanced nutrition can enhance your ability to resist infections and remain healthy.

To lower your risk of a chronic illness or infectious disease, follow these guidelines to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants your body needs daily.

  1. Eat a nutritionally balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, heart healthy fats and lean proteins.

  2. Drink plenty of water.

  3. Avoid sugar, fat and salt.

  4. Include key micronutrients:

  5. Vitamin C: Oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, strawberries, red bell peppers, brussel sprouts

  6. Vitamin D: Salmon, mushrooms, egg yolk

  7. Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots and spinach

  8. Vitamin E: Plant based foods such as nuts and peanut butter

  9. Zinc: Meat, shellfish, beans/legumes and nuts/seeds

Good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other high-risk health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and types of cancer.

2. Move Your Body Daily and Reduce Your Stress.

Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, reduces stress and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and promotes better immune function .

In times of stress and uncertainty, it becomes even more important to engage in strategies that can help reduce the effects of stress on the immune system. Prolonged stress leads to hyper physiological levels of cortisol. This alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate both the inflammatory and immune response.

Increased inflammation makes us more susceptible to chronic and acute illness, including Covid-19. Instead of spending time and energy worrying, why not channel that energy into what you can control — self-care. Not only will exercising daily help your overall health and fitness, it will elevate your mood and promote better, restorative sleep.

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3. Immunity Support Supplements.

Micronutrients are critical for a well-functioning immune system and play a vital role in promoting health and nutritional well-being. Wherever possible, try to get your micronutrients from nutrient-rich food sources. Because many of us are at risk of nutrient deficiencies, research has shown that supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals can improve immune response and help fight infections. Many supplements on the market may help improve immune health, these are just a few that have been researched for their immune-enhancing potential.

If you decide that you want to try a supplement, speak with your healthcare provider first, as some supplements may interact with certain medications or are inappropriate for some people.

Vitamin D - is essential for immune function. Healthy levels of this vitamin may help lower your risk of respiratory infections. Many people are deficient in this important vitamin, which may negatively affect immune function. In fact, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections

Vitamin C - is vital for immune health. Supplementing with this nutrient may reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold.

Vitamin A - plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defense. It’s also involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream. A deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick

Zinc - helps protect against respiratory tract infections and reduce the duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.

Probiotics - contain "good bacteria" that both support gut health and influence the function and regulation of the immune system. They also can decrease the number of respiratory infections, especially in children.

4. Quality Sleep.

Optimal sleep helps regulate mood, improve brain function, and increase energy and overall productivity during the day. Ample sleep supports the immune system, which reduces the risk of infection and can improve outcomes for people fighting a virus. Sleep deprivation on the other hand weakens the body’s defense system and makes people more vulnerable to contracting a virus.

Here are a few must-dos to help optimize your sleep:

Establish Sleep schedule. Figure out your sleep need, then prioritize that amount of sleep each night and stick to it.

Limit Screen Time. Turn off your devices one hour before bedtime. The blue light from these screens tells the brain to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin, which can lead to trouble falling asleep.

Relax Before Bed. Take the hour before bedtime as “me time” with no electronic engagement. Take a hot bath/shower, play soothing music, try a meditation app and read a book.

Sleep Environment. Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. Keep the room temperature cool, try an eye mask or blackout shades, and use a white noise machine to block extra noise.

Manage Your Stress. Many people have less access to their usual coping strategies such going to the gym and spending time with family and friends. Try new hobbies — painting, writing, meditation, walking outside, etc. Consider therapy if the stress feels unmanageable.

Structure Your Day. Commit to daily activities (e.g., exercise, meals) at certain times to build structure to your days. This will support a regular bedtime and wake time.

Sleep is one of the most important health behaviors for optimal immune function, mental and physical health and quality of life.