The last few months have been tough on us all.  Now more than ever it’s time to be good to your immune system.

What is your immune system?

The immune system is your fighting system. It defends you against germs and micro-organisms.  It swings into action to help you fight off germs. It helps you by producing antibodies which can destroy the germs. If that germ attacks your body again the antibody is already there to fight it off.  

However the immune system can get tired or depleted and therefore needs us to do a few things to maintain it in tip top shape.

Tips to boost your immune system

  • Exercise – is key to having a healthy immune system even if it is only a 5-minute walk 3 times per day. Gradually increase the length of exercise time and keep it up. Those fighter cells need you to be fitter, every little helps. Regular exercise helps reduces cancer risk, improves cardiovascular – heart system and reduces the risk of diabetes. 
  • Diet – Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. All engines need fuel and your diet is your fuel.  As well as fruit and vegetables and healthy fat, have some protein at each meal. Sources of protein include nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, turkey and lean cuts of red meat. (Red meat should only be consumed 2/3 times a week).   Add some probiotics and fermented foods into your diet. Recent research has shown the gut and brain are closely linked and can influence how we feel.  Limit your intake of processed and sugary foods. The better the quality of the food sources the better your immune system will function.
  • Water – Keep yourself Hydrated. DRINK more WATER. Aim for 1 – 2 litres daily in regular small amounts. Increase your intake if you have exercised strenuously or sweat excessively. 
  • Stress – a certain amount of stress is healthy. The problem arises when we fail to recognize a build–up of stress in our lives resulting in an increased amount of adrenalin impacting negatively on the immune system. Unused adrenalin builds up in the system causing muscle tension, disturbed sleep patterns and a state of heightened awareness and anxiety
  • Breathing – Practice your breathing exercises regularly and whenever you feel stressed. Make a habit of taking 6 deep breaths hourly and follow the technique of inhaling through your nose for the count of 4, holding and then exhaling through gently pursed lips for the count of 4, all the time focusing on the breath. 
  • Sleep – is our super power. A regular sleep cycle is not just for toddlers but for us all. Establishing a regular sleep schedule helps all aspects of life. Aim for 6-8 hours nightly. Try to relax for an hour before going to bed. Avoid strenuous exercise and a heavy meal for 2/3 hours before bedtime. It is recommended that mobile phones, laptops and tablets are not used in the hour prior to going to bed. If you must read on one try to have a blue light filter.  Good quality sleep improves your memory, your ability to learn and your performance of your everyday skills. The brain is like a sponge and needs adequate sleep to absorb information.
  • Laugh – you release the feel-good hormone Endorphin when you laugh regularly and heartily which helps you feel better and strengthens your immune system. 
  • Smoking – damages your respiratory system, increases your cancer risk and weakens the immune system. Break the habit if you can.
  • Sunshine – Vitamin D deficiency is very common in Ireland. Regular sunshine is not only needed for Healthy Bones but is also required to strengthen the immune system. Be Sun Smart and wear your sun protection. Get your GP to check your Vitamin D levels at your next check-up.
  •  Praise – Appreciate all that is good and unique about yourself. Be kind to yourself.