Our immune system is a highly complex system that is busy around the clock protecting our body from invaders - similar to a tireless police force that is on duty day and night.
Similarly like our digestion these processes happen automatically. Usually we only notice our immune system, when our body starts showing symptoms of illness - and that's when it's usually too late.
So what can we do to stay as healthy as possible? Here are five things you can start doing right away!
1. Get adequate sleep
We might be repeating ourselves with this one, but for a good reason! Sufficient sleep is really important for our immune system to function properly. Besides, isn't it much better to NOT feel tired all the time?
If you are burning the midnight oil too frequently you´re likely doing yourself a disservice.
Many people feel they need more sleep in the winter. This has to do with the fact that we are exposed to less light. Our brain then responds by sending a signal to the body to produce melatonin, known as the “sleep hormone”. As a result we start feeling tired.
As tempting as it is to stay up late in the night watching Netflix, do yourself a favour and get more sleep instead.
2. Take vital nutrients
A balanced and nutritious diet is important throughout the year, but in winter it is even more important to watch your nutrient intake.
The famous saying by Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” still rings true today.
Thus the first step towards health and a functioning immune system is a balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients.
Depending on your geographical location that might also include taking certain supplements such as vitamin D in winter.
For many people, taking a vitamin D supplement may be the best way to ensure adequate intake in the dark winter months, especially if they don´t like to eat fish/eggs.
This is due to the fact that obtaining sufficient vitamin D from natural (nonfortified) food sources alone is difficult.
Learn more about the effects of vitamins in our blog post:How Vitamins Work in the body:
Regular exercise helps you to stay healthy and fit around the year.
The World Health Organization recommends:
Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
You can check out the full recommendationhere.
Various studies have come to the conclusion that moderate exercise is most effective for boosting your immune function. This includes jogging, cycling, walking or (our favorite in Finland) cross-country skiing. You don't like any of these activities? Find something that suits you.
The most important thing is to get started, even if it's just 10-20 minutes a day!
4. Stay away from the toxins
Strengthening our immune system is accomplished in a number of ways, including reducing toxins in your daily life.
Too much sugar, alcohol, smoking and poor dietary choices can not only cause many unwanted effects (dull skin, poor sleep... etc) but also compromise your overall health and your immune system, especially if consumed in excess over a long period of time. In fact, alcohol and nicotine can both affect nutrient absorption.
In addition to that, start using natural products for cleaning and avoid exposure to toxic chemicals like heavy metals, pesticides or mold.
5. Remember about self-care
When we're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced.
That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
So, to boost your immune system you will have to take care of your whole body and soul.
Remember to de-stress regularly by blocking weekly time slots for self-care. Take a relaxing bath, get a massage or listen to music that you love...Find the method that works for you!
Healthy doesn't have to be boring!
Does this sound like a lot of rules? Supporting your immune system doesn't have to be boring or difficult. Many of the activities we have added to ourAutumn Bucket Listare actually good for health and fun!
If you´re wondering what to eat, check out our blog post5 Comfort Foods To Try This Autumn.