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Tips to boost your immune system

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In the current pandemic, “How to strengthen the immune system?” “What are immunity-boosting foods?” “How to improve immunity?” “Foods that help you boost your immune system?” are some of the most searched queries. There are many ways to boost your immunity naturally or by supplements. Let us discuss what immunity boosters you should include in your daily diet. 

What happens when the immune system is weak?

People with a weak immune system have a higher risk of getting infections frequently and developing more severe symptoms of viral and bacterial diseases. Bacteria and viruses can have a damaging effect on a person with a weak immune system. Seek medical attention if you seem to be falling sick often, like frequently catching a cold or flu.

How can you boost your immune system?

Your immune system consists of several organs that need different vitamins and minerals to function well, and to have vitamins and minerals- your body requires balanced and a healthy diet. In the meantime, having healthy living habits can help you boost your immune system.

Taking care of your body and mind is the best way to improve immunity. The better your immune system functions, the better your body will function.

1. Eating the right food

Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is one of the most important things to boost your immunity. Try to include whole foods, fruits in your diet, and avoid taking a large amount of salt, sugar, or processed foods.

Nutrients are an essential part of building a healthy immune system. A good healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein is a good source of most of these nutrients. Supplements can be included as per the advice of your doctor to fill any nutritional gap.

Vitamin A: It is a powerful antioxidant and acts as a natural defence against illness and infection.

Source: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and squash.

Vitamin C:  It is an antioxidant that fights against free radicals in the body.

Source: citrus fruits (like orange, lemon), leafy green vegetables, strawberries, carrots, bell peppers and many more fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin B6: It supports biochemical reactions of the immune system.

Source: lean poultry, tuna, bananas, and chickpeas.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D protects you from a number of health problems and it keeps your teeth, bones, and muscles healthy. The body creates vitamin D from sunlight on the skin when outdoors, but you may need a supplement to fulfil the requirement.

Source: fatty fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods. 

Vitamin E: Antioxidant that fights infections in the body.

Source: spinach, almonds, peanuts, broccoli, and hazelnuts.

Folate (folic acid): It helps the body form healthy red blood cells. Folic acid deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system. Folate reduces the risk of unusual birth defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies.

Source: beans, peas, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Iron: Iron forms an important part of haemoglobin that absorbs oxygen and carries it in the blood to take it to the rest of the body. Source: red meat, beans, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, soybean flour, and dried fruit. 

Zinc It helps to control inflammation in the body.

Source: oysters, crabs, poultry, beans and chickpeas.

2. Manage stress

Stress and anxiety can have a physical and mental effect on our bodies, impacting the body’s natural defences. 

One study reveals a link between autoimmune diseases and chronic stress-related conditions. Try a few stress-busting techniques like breathing techniques, meditation or yoga to manage your stress. 

3. Exercise

Engaging your body with regular exercise daily or 3-4 days a week can strengthen your immune system. Other than this, it also helps you sleep better and reduces your stress levels.

4. Get 8 hours sleep

When you sleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines, which fight against infection and inflammation. So, not getting enough sleep will impact the immune system. If throughout the day your body is feeling fatigued then probably you aren’t getting enough sleep.

5. Special attention to gut health

Doctors always advise that your gut health has an impact on your overall health. If you have a weak digestive system, then it will affect your immune system. Healthy gut microbiomes promote a healthy immune system.

Many studies are being conducted on the importance of gut microbiomes for overall health and bodily functions. An imbalance in levels of gut bacteria contributes to chronic diseases like diabetes, carcinoma, and IBS. Gut health is linked with depression, mental health, obesity, and cholesterol levels.

6. Personal hygiene

Taking care of all the above things while maintaining good personal hygiene will keep your immune system strong and healthy. Practising good personal hygiene will stop germs from entering your body and keep your health good. 

Other ways to boost your immune system

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the first way to boost your immune system. Making changes according to good-health guidelines, suggested by experts, will also help you to keep your immune system strong. Making small changes and developing the following habits will improve your immunity:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Have one seasonal fruit in a day.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • To avoid infection, wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid eating half-cooked food.
  • Take all recommended vaccines. Vaccines improve the immune system.

Final thoughts

If you are stuck in some situation where you do not understand how to strengthen your immune system, you can always take external help. For more information or personalised guidance, you can book an appointment with Dr Tushar Tayal, a leading internal medicine specialist at the CK Birla Hospital or call us at +91 124 4882248. 

FAQs

Ques: What are the signs of a weak immune system?

Ans: Usually, our immune system protects our body from infection and illness and naturally develops antibodies to fight any foreign organism inside the body.

However, due to several reasons, the immune system can weaken and become less effective against infections. These reasons include lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and poor nutrition.

If you do have a weak immune system, your body will indicate this to you through some signs, including:

  • Being frequently unwell
  • Feeling tired throughout the day
  • Wounds that are slow to heal

Ques: Does honey boost your immune system?

Ans: Honey has antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of phytonutrients that improve the digestive system. The other two main bioactive molecules, flavonoids and polyphenols, act as antioxidants. These antioxidants help in neutralising the free radicals in the body.

Honey can be considered an immune system builder with antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-tumour properties. Eating honey is generally safe for adults and children older than age 1. Some people are allergic to particular components present in the honey and may experience symptoms like wheezing, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness after having it. If you also experience the same, seek doctors advice.

Ques: How do you know if your immune system is strong?

Ans: If you recover from common illnesses and seasonal flu quickly and don’t generally fall sick, you probably have a strong immune system.

Ques: Do supplements help the immune system?

Ans: Supplements can help fill nutritional gaps. With age, taking vitamin supplements like vitamin C and D, calcium, and vitamin B12 tablets can be recommended based on the doctor’s advice.

Ques: Why do I have a weak immune system?

Ans: There are many reasons for a weak immune system. People with primary immunodeficiency, lack some of the body’s immune defences, which impact their body and make them more susceptible to germs that can cause infections. These immunodeficiencies could be present from birth or can be acquired later. Other than this, some other factors are also responsible for a weak immune system like an unhealthy lifestyle.