Welcome to your MCI Wellbeing Blog for July!
This month we are talking about Building Your Immunity.
“If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness”
With the major health events the world has faced over the last few years its more important than ever to protect our health and well-being and that of our loved ones. We are faced with constant reminders that it’s flu season and it seems like the flu strains grow worse every year. This might provoke thoughts of getting flu shots, improving diet and doing more exercise but there is more that we can do, starting with strengthening our immune system.
So much of health and wellness starts with a strong immune system and minimising inflammation in the body, but what exactly does our immune system do that keeps us healthy?
“Your immune system is a large network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies) and chemicals. This system works together to protect you from foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi) that cause infection, illness and disease”
We’ve put together 5 simple tips to strengthen your immunity
Get Enough Sleep
"Sleep provides essential support to the immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defence that features strong innate and adaptive immunity, efficient response to vaccines, and less severe allergic reactions". Sleep Foundation
It is a well-known fact that inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked with a higher susceptibility for illness. In a recent study of 164 adults, those who slept less than 6 hours per night were more likely to catch a cold than those who get 6 or more hours of sleep per night.
Depending on your age group, the optimum hours of sleep are:
Adults - 7 hours
Teens - 8-10 hours
young children and infants- 14 hours
You can create a good environment by switching off electronics an hour before sleeping and making sure the room is dark.
Make Time For Moderate Exercise
Making moderate exercise part of your weekly routine, can significantly boost your immune system by helping your immune cells to regenerate more quickly with the bonus of reduced inflammation.
Most people should aim for 150 mins of moderate exercise which includes:
Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, steady cycling and light hiking.
Maintain A Diet High In Plant-Based Foods And Healthy Fats
A diet that combines antioxidants and healthy fats can have the double whammy effect of reducing inflammation and protecting us from harmful pathogens.
Chronic inflammation is linked with certain health conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.
Eating a balanced diet of antioxidant rich plant-based foods, including fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes will help reduce inflammation while also providing high fibre for a healthy gut microbiome (healthy gut bacteria).
Healthy fats including salmon and olive oil are high in Omega 3’s which also reduce inflammation leading to an improved immune system.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
An important part of an immune boosting diet is to limit added sugars. It has been established that excessive sugar and too many refined carbohydrates like white bread, white flour, white rice and pasta can lead to weight gain and obesity. People in this category run the risk of developing Type II diabetes and heart disease.
Given that these health conditions weaken your immune system, curbing sugar can aid weight loss and decreased inflammation.
The advice on the amount of sugar we should eat varies but aiming for less than 5% of our total calorie intake per day has been suggested.
Check On Your Stress Levels
Finding ways to relieve stress and anxiety is key to healthy immunity. Prolonged periods of stress lead to inflammation in the body which, as we already know, significantly impacts our immune cell function and overall health.
Practices like meditation, yoga and exercise are often recommended to reduce stress and while these mindfulness activities are highly effective, simple pursuits like gardening, reading, baking even cleaning can also relieve stress. It’s worth exploring your own relaxation strategies to find what works best for you.
These simple lifestyle changes are easy to do and can go a long way to building and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Here’s to your good health!
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All the best!