Our Immune system is the best defence we have against colds, flus and other viruses. A robust immune system is vital to prevent infection, and if we're infected to reduce the severity of symptoms and help our recovery.
The good news is that making some simple diet and lifestyle changes can strengthen our immunity and significantly lower the risk of infection and severe illness – whether it be covid or one of the other bugs and viruses.
When you’re stressed your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol in short bursts is fine. However if you feel stressed too often, cortisol levels are constantly elevated and this can lead to multiple health problems. For instance, high cortisol interferes with the function of T cells, and thus weakens your immune system.
Find ways to relax
A good way to manage stress is to have an outlet to relax. Read a book, listen to music, spend time on your hobby – find some good ways to chill out (and help your immune cells rejuvenate at the same time). Spending time outdoors interacting with nature is a great way to chill and has a direct link to immune health . Or consider taking up something like yoga or meditation – more and more guys are doing it these days.
Recent research suggests a reverse correlation between a person’s social connectivity and their susceptibility to viruses and infections. Social connectivity means having strong positive relationships with other people – your family, your friends, your workmates. Having close connections with other people seems to have a beneficial effect on your immune health.
Get enough sleep and rest
This is crucial ! The immune system needs sleep to restore your cells and release infection-fighting antibodies. The recommendation is to aim for at least 8 hours every night to let your body repair and rejuvenate. If that’s hard to achieve, then 7 hours is better than 6 !
Poor sleep makes you feel stressed and irritable. It brings on food cravings which in turn means you gain weight. There are, however, changes you can make to your lifestyle and the foods you eat (and when you eat them !) that will help you get a better night’s sleep (also see my blog on Sleep Tips).
The 3 most important nutrients for your immune system are Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Omega 3.
The good news is these nutrients are present in lots of common foods:
- Vitamin D – whilst the primary source of Vitamin D is the sun, some good food sources include mushrooms, eggs, cheese, salmon
- Vitamin C – food sources include green vegetables, citrus fruits and berries
- Omega 3 fats – main sources include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout), avocados, nuts
Everyone is different. Which of these nutrients you need most will depend on your individual circumstances.
You’re probably eating a number of these things already, so just increase the amount/frequency a bit.
- If you’re currently eating salmon once a week, bump it up to twice; likewise with eggs
- Add avocados or mushrooms to your salads
- Add some nuts and berries to your breakfast cereal or porridge
We could add three common spices to the above list – garlic, ginger, and turmeric are great anti-inflammatory foods and thus good immune boosters.
If you integrate even a few of these tips into your life, your immune system will thank you and you’ll be better protected against bugs and viruses.
Ready to find out more?
If you’d like to discuss how to improve your immune system or your overall health, book a free introductory call with me. There is no obligation - just a chat about your health priorities and how I might be able to help