We all have to thank our remarkable immune system for keeping us safe and sound until now. But with the latest COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that even this powerful army is struggling to protect many people. How can we help the immune system win this fight? The answer lies in striving for good health naturally with healthy lifestyle habits. Read on to see the top 5 ways that you can boost your immunity and be virus-resistant.
Nourish a Healthy Gut Microbiota
Gut health and immune health often go hand in hand as 80% of your immune system is in the gut microbiota. There are more than 1000 bacterial species in the gut that can help strengthen the immune system.
The most basic function of gut bacteria is by simply lining the surface of your gut. They physically compete in space and food with infectious pathogens like viruses, therefore preventing them from invading further. In addition, some gut bacteria can release toxins that directly kill invading pathogens whilst others can ramp up the immune response by releasing stimulatory metabolites.
Extensive research has shown that certain gut bacteria are capable of inactivating rotaviruses, preventing Clostridium difficile colonization and neutralizing cholera toxin.
Therefore, having a healthy gut is extremely effective in boosting your natural immunity. These are the things that you could do to nourish friendly gut bacteria:
- Eat fiber-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits
- Avoid too much high-fat, high-sugar processed foods
- Avoid additives such as emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners
- Limit the consumption of stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotic medications
- Take probiotics to boost the diversity of your gut microbiota
Eat a Variety of Natural Micronutrients
It is well known that people who live in poverty and suffer from nutritional deficiency are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. In fact, a long list of micronutrient deficiencies have been shown to affect immune responses:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6, B9. B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
The best way to acquire all of these micronutrients in adequate amounts is through a diversity of healthy whole foods. Modern processed foods include far more calories but few nutrients as they are easily lost in the manufacturing steps.
If you suspect that you are not getting enough micronutrients, consider taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. A combination of these micronutrients taken together results in the best absorption as compared to single vitamins. For example, the presence of Vitamin C is well known to enhance iron absorption.
Supplement Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidants
Every single cell in your body needs oxygen to survive, but there is a price to pay. Oxidation reactions generate damaging byproducts called reactive oxygen species (ROS), or commonly known as oxidative stress. Luckily, your body has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules that can counteract these damages, keeping your cells healthy. However, these damages are not always cleared and they can accumulate with aging.
There are many ways that you can boost levels of anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. Eating plant-based foods, herbs and spices and exercise are all natural solutions. However, keep in mind that these are long-term commitments and not quick fixes.
If you would like to ramp up the level of immunity more quickly, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants supplements may be helpful. Among them, Carbon 60 is one promising agent that some researchers consider as the “free radical sponge” for its ability to absorb a range of detrimental free radicals. Here is a comprehensive research paper that explains what is Carbon 60 and its diverse applications in medicine.
Drink Immune-Boosting Teas
Have you heard of the “Blue zones” or “Okinawan centenarians”? These are regions or populations in the world that have puzzling good health and longevity. One of their secrets to health is drinking tea. In fact, tea is so ingrained into their culture and is a daily ritual.
Typically, tea is high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which are well known immune-boosting ingredients. For example, green tea and black tea have been shown to prevent infections from the flu virus and decrease common cold symptoms. Tea catechins such as EGCG have antiviral properties that suppress viral replication.
If you are not a tea drinker yet, why not try a cup of green tea or mint tea? Add a bit of raw honey to sooth your throat and improve the taste if you like. Make it part of your daily routine like the Okinawans!
Keep Your Stress Down
Last but not the least, stress is a huge determinant for your health. This is because stress hormones can suppress your immune system and lead to higher risk of succumbing to infections.
A landmark study exposed healthy adults to the cold virus and found that those who were stressed were twice as likely to get sick. The researchers also added that stressed people are also often the ones that don’t get enough sleep and eat the right food, which further worsen their immunity against viruses.
Fortunately, stress is often a man-made perception and you are strong enough to take control! Be proactive and take actions to reduce your stress. Apart from the good old yoga and meditation, have you considered these stress relievers?
Not too difficult to have a strong immune system if you give your body a bit more care, right? Incorporate these healthy lifestyle habits and you are sure to see changes in how you feel and look!