The immune system in our bodies is a network of cells, organs and tissues which work together to prevent or limit infection from potentially harmful pathogens. Whilst we can’t control being exposed to germs and viruses, we can prepare and support our immune system to recognise and fight off any potentially harmful pathogens that we might be exposed to. Our immune systems are designed to fight off illnesses and viruses, but it’s easy to get worn down by stress, toxins and an unhealthy lifestyle but when functioning properly, the body can identify threats and create antibodies to tackle these.
Here are 6 easy ways to build your immunity and make your immune system stronger for optimal health:
1. Keep Hydrated
Staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness, so it’s important to drink lots of water and reduce alcohol consumption and sugary drinks. For those missing the flavoured drinks, we recommend infusing your water with nutritious ingredients such as ginger, lemon, orange, cucumber or grapefruit.
2. Get enough sleep
The optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours a day, and not getting enough sleep can suppress the immune system function. When we’re asleep, the body releases proteins called cytokines which increase when we are ill. Sleep deprivation can reduce our bodies abilities to respond and make us more susceptible to illnesses.
3. Stick to a healthy diet
80% of your immune system is in your gut, so when it’s healthy, we’re able to fight off infections faster and better. Fill your diet with ingredients that are high in nutrients and vitamins such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats which can neutralise the free radicals in the body. Herbs such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and oregano have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties whilst sugar, processed meat, vegetable oils, and alcohol tend to be inflammatory foods that can affect the efficiency of the immune system.
4. Manage stress
There is a strong link between your immune health and mental health. When your body is feeling stressed or anxious, it can produce stress hormones that can suppress your immune system and you’re also less likely to pay attention to healthy habits such as eating properly and getting enough sleep. When you feel the stress building up, take a few deep breaths which will send messages to your brain to calm down and relax. Meditation has been proven to be a very effective stress-management tool by triggering the body's relaxation response.
5. Keep active
It’s recommended to do 30 vigorous or 60 moderate minutes of exercise most days of the week, whether it be a long walk/ run in the open air or a session at the gym. Exercise can help your body’s antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, which means reacting more quickly to prevent or limit infection. It can also help to lower stress hormones but it’s also important to note that doing too much exercise can cause stress on your body.
6. Stop smoking
Smoking can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia and influenza. It can lower levels of protective antioxidants in the blood as well as cause anti-inflammatory changes in your lungs and divert your immune system from fighting infections elsewhere.
If you'd like to boost your immune system on a healthy holiday filled with relaxation and expert advice, call to speak to one of our wellness travel specialists on +44 (0)203 886 0082 or discover our top immune-boosting holidays here.