By Imreeta Bajwa
As COVID restrictions have eased more outdoor activities and socialising with different people has meant being susceptible to viral infections. There are many things you can implement daily to naturally improve immunity, and continue enjoying autumn without falling sick.
Short-term stress is effective for the body as it activates physiological systems enabling survival for example the flight-or-fight response. Chronic stress which persists for several hours per day, weeks or months supresses immune function. It can increase the likelihood of pro-inflammatory (dermatitis, cardiovascular disease) and autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Meditation is a great way of de-stressing and neuroimaging studies have indicated an increase in regional blood flow measurements in the brain during meditation. Transcendental meditation can be practised for 20 minutes a day. It involves sitting with your eyes closed and repeating a mantra of your choice shifting awareness to a restful yet wakeful state. However, to reap the full benefits you must practise regularly for weeks or months.
If you are struggling with adding meditation into your daily routine try out some of the most common tools such as Meditation Pillow to help you relax and de touch and Meditation Candle to set the right mood in your room.
Another technique to cope with stress journaling which is an extremely health way to express yourself. Taking time every day to let your thoughts flow can help to motivate positive self-talk, learn triggers and prioritize your fears and concerns.
- Improving Sleep
During sleep the body frees energy for the immune system to preform vital tasks as breathing and muscle activity slows down. In a study of 153 healthy men and women those with under seven hours of sleep a night, were three times more likely to catch a cold than those with eight hours. It is important that you prioritise time for your body to rest so the immune system has time to recognise and react to dangerous antigens.
Turning off stimulation at least two hours before bed can help to slow down brain waves. Epsom salt baths and foot baths can replace the time spent on devices as it helps to control magnesium levels – a factor that also impacts sleep.
Avoiding caffeine late in the afternoon and evening can also aid those who are sensitive to its effects without even knowing.
A herbal tea such as Damazonia 28 days Immune Boosting Tea or kava-kava can be taken instead. In a study 120mg was given daily over six weeks to patients with stress related insomnia. Results showed a large improvement in waking mood and the duration it took individuals to sleep and waking mood.
- Eating the right foods
Insufficient intake of energy and macronutrient is caused by a lack of nutrition which stops the immune system from functioning normally. Findings in patients with rare single nutrient deficiencies has highlighted the important role of mineral and vitamins for the immunity.
Including cruciferous vegetables (green vegetables) such as kale, cabbage, collards and broccoli in your diet can help to boost immunity. When chopped or blended the sulfur containing compounds in the vegetables are converted into a variety of compounds that enhance immunity.
Vitamins A and D in particular have proven crucial in the growth and responsiveness of immune cells. Vitamin D ( rich foods include plant based milks (oat, coconut, almond and soy) and fortified cereals. Foods with high Vitamin A content are cheese, eggs, oily fish, low fat spreads, milk and yogurt. Alternatively, for vegan and vegetarians peppers, leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes and yellow fruit including mango, papaya and apricots are good.
Regular moderate intensity exercise is a good way to ensure the improvement of your immune system. Studies have shown that after exercise the circulation of white blood cells increased from 70 to 130 per cent. Being physically active can help to flush out bacteria in the lungs and airwaves reducing the chances of catching illnesses like the cold or flu.
It is important you do not over exert yourself and practise high intensity workouts without rest because it can trigger decreased cellular immunity. Going on walks, bike rides and runs is the perfect way to ensure you are staying active.
In conclusion, it is clear that there are very easy things you can implement into your daily life to ensure you are staying healthy. There are a multitudes of evidence to suggest that these methods do actually work.