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9 Daily Habits To Improve Immunity

| Reviewed By Arya Krishnan

Our body's immune system is responsible for protecting us from diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and toxins. A well-functioning immune system help removes foreign bodies and malignant cells from the system. In addition, it helps regulate the immune responses against harmless external triggers such as food or the body's tissue.

The immune system is incredibly complex. From colds to the flu to COVID-19, it must be capable of fighting off a wide range of illnesses and infections without becoming overly aggressive, causing autoimmune disorders.

Despite this complexity, you can do a few things to help strengthen your immune system. So, how can you improve your immune system? Find out how you can improve your immunity by improving your daily habits.

Daily Habits To Improve Immunity

1. Sleep more than seven hours

Lack of sleep has been shown to significantly impair immune function. Although sleeping does not seem like an active process, many important things happen in your body when you are asleep. For example, while you sleep, important infection-fighting molecules are produced. Research has shown that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to become ill after being exposed to viruses, such as the common cold virus [1].

2. Drink water all-day

Hydration is essential for immune function as it helps with flushing out the toxins. It is particularly important for the ageing population, who consume less liquid throughout the day [2].

3. Eat colourful veggies and fruits

An excellent immunity-boosting habit is to eat a healthy plant-based diet. By varying your diet, you ensure you are consuming antioxidant vitamins such as A, B6, C, and E and selenium, iron, folic acid, and zinc. Make sure you consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Purple cabbage is one of the best. It contains the highest levels of antioxidants and is relatively inexpensive. In addition, ensure that you consume more legumes to improve your gut flora [3].

4. Eat probiotic foods

Both kefir and yoghurt contain probiotics, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, a study has found that probiotic foods can shorten the duration of colds by two days and reduce their severity by 34 per cent by increasing the number of good bacteria in the digestive system. For those who do not enjoy dairy products, try adding some other probiotic foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses to your diet [4].

5. Wash your hands

As part of our fight against COVID-19, many have developed this habit. However, the best way to eliminate germs is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It is also recommended that you use a hand sanitiser [5].

6. Manage stress

In response to chronic stress that is frequent and long-lasting, your body initiates what is known as a stress response. The purpose of this reaction is to protect your body from further stress. Unfortunately, this response also suppresses your immune system, which increases your risk of infection and illness [6][7].

Stress is different for everyone, and it is equally different how we cope with it. Because stress can negatively affect your health, it is important to understand how to identify it. Additionally, you should also be familiar with the activities that help you reduce stress, whether deep breathing, meditation, prayer or exercise.

7. Exercise regularly

Practising physical activity is beneficial for building muscles and relieving stress - it's also important to being healthy and maintaining a strong immune system. Exercise can improve immunity by boosting your overall circulation, which makes it easier for your immune cells and other infection-fighting molecules to travel more easily throughout your body. As little as 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day can improve your immune system [8].

8. Spend time with your pets

The accumulation of cortisol causes the immune system to become "resistant," allowing the production of inflammatory cytokines to increase, further impairing the immune system (and causing weight gain). However, it has been found that simply cuddling with your dog or cat for ten minutes can reduce your cortisol levels [9].

9. Do some gardening (without gloves)

Yes, getting your hands dirty can improve your immunity [10]. According to the 'hygiene hypothesis,' developed in the 1980s and 1990s, an increasingly sanitised world where limited exposure to environmental microbes accounts for the increase in allergies and other immune system disorders. Some evidence backs up the hypothesis; human studies comparing farming communities that use hand tools to modern, mechanised equipment showed that farm families who worked with their hands showed fewer signs of allergies.

Arya KrishnanEmergency Medicine
MBBS
Arya Krishnan
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