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5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Surgical masks and hand sanitisers are invaluable tools in the fight against viruses, but did you know that the first line of defense starts from within?

06 Aug 2020

Surgical masks and hand sanitisers are invaluable tools in the fight against viruses, but did you know that the first line of defense starts from within? 

 

While adopting good personal hygiene is one of the main precautionary measures we can take to safeguard our personal health and wellbeing, we need to ensure our immune system is at its prime. 


Simply put, the immune system fights against bacteria, viruses, parasites and any harmful or foreign pathogens. In the face of the current situation, it is critical we strengthen our immune system with these 5 simple ways for a stronger defense against the viruses. 

 

Exercise 

Regular exercise contributes to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. Exercising also promotes good circulation and this allows the cells as well as the substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. If you are well, there is no reason for you to stop exercising and have a good sweat. 

 

Researchers at the University of California-San Diego of Medicine found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system. On top of that, medical research has also proven that working out regularly reduces your chance of contracting communicable diseases including viral and bacterial infections. 

 

However, it is important to keep in mind not to overexert yourself with too many back-to-back workouts and be sure to include sufficient rest and recovery in between. According to Psychology Today, some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases as the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones which will severely depresses our immunity. 

 

For a stronger immune system, it is necessary for you to find ways to relieve your stress. One way is through a commonly-known exercise – Yoga. Relax your mind and body in a quiet and meditative session which focuses on slow stretches, flexibility and deep breathing. A study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health concluded that yoga has an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. 

 

On top of that, Yoga is also widely known to help in improving sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia and this brings us into the next point on why having adequate sleep helps in boosting our immune system. 

 

Sleep  

Adequate sleep it helps the immune cells in our body (also known as T cells) fight off infection. 

T cells play an important role in our body’s immune system, and insufficient sleep can cause stress hormones in the body to inhibit the ability of T cells to function effectively. 


In order to ensure that the T cells function effectively in the body, it is recommended that adults achieve a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night.  

 

Eat  

Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. Our immune system requires vitamins and minerals to function at an optimum level hence it is important for us to include food high in Vitamin C in our daily diet. Known to be a strong antioxidant, Vitamin C is able to strengthen our body’s natural defenses. A few examples of these immune boosters are citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach. 


Apart from the fruits and vegetables, garlic and chili, are also flavour-enhancing ingredients which aids in boosting our immune system. 

 

Drink  

When it comes to water intake, it varies according to each individual due to the difference in how our body works and in our lifestyle. However, you can try judging from the following points by Mayo Clinic, to know when your water intake is adequate: 

  1. You rarely feel thirsty 
  2. Your urine is colourless or light yellow 


Bask

 Research has shown that Vitamin D, which is produced when our skin is exposed to the sunlight, reduces the likelihood of developing flu. 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face 2-3 times a week is enough to enjoy the Vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun. 

Wearing sunscreen does halt the production of Vitamin D, but if you’re out in the sun for a longer period make sure to apply some to your body.   

 

Continue to wash your hands regularly with hands and soap, seek medical attention promptly and refrain from working out should you feel unwell. 

 

References

  • Bergland, C. (2020). Got Inflammation? 20 Minutes of Exercise Could Be a Remedy. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201701/got-inflammation-20-minutes-exercise-could-be-remedy [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020] 
  • Goliszek, A. (2020). How the Mind Heals the Body. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body [Accessed 7 Feb. 2020] 
  • US National Library Of Medicine (2020). Home - PMC - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2020] 
  • Schend, J. (2020). 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#other-options [Accessed 9 Feb. 2020] 
  • YANG, G. (2020). Boosting your immune system to stay fighting fit in battle against the coronavirus. [online] ActiveSG. Available at: https://www.myactivesg.com/read/2020/2/boosting-your-immune-system-to-stay-fighting-fit-in-battle-against-the-coronavirus [Accessed 9 Feb. 2020]
  • Health Hub. (2020). Healthy Herbs and Spices for Cooking. [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1351/add-a-healthy-pop-to-your-favourite-dishes [Accessed 9 Feb. 2020] 
  • Clinic, M. (2020). Water: How much should you drink every day?. [online] Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256 [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020] 
  • Cruickshank, H. (2020). Flu Protection from the Sun. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/getting-more-sun-could-protect-you-from-flu [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020] 
  • J. Legg, T. (2020). What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#sun-safety [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020]