How to Boost Your Immune System
Cold and flu season is back, and it sucks! Did you overdo it at Christmas?
A lack of good nutrition, too much booze and not enough sleep might have left your immune system struggling.
Get back on track with these tips.
Look After Your Gut
Until recently, the importance of the gut was massively underestimated. Experts now refer to it as the "second brain", and claim it affects everything from digestion to mood.
According to research, around 70% of the cells that make up your immune system live in the gut. So, if you're fighting against a weakened immune system, this is often a good place to start.
Start with a daily dose of good bacteria, either from a probiotic supplement or food. Sources include live-cultured yogurt, miso soup and saurkraut. If you opt for yogurt, just make sure the one you choose isn't packed full of sugar or other additives.
Prebiotics are essential too. They feed the good bacteria already in your gut, encouraging growth. The best sources include bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus and sweet potatoes.
Immune-boosting nutrition goes beyond food to support your gut health. Limit foods thought to cause inflammation, such as sugar and refined grains. Instead, fill yourself up with nutrient-dense foods.
Here are some foods (and associated nutrients) linked to improved immunity:
- Brocolli, kale and peppers (Vitamin C),
- Beef, spinach and pumpkin seeds (Zinc),
- Flaxseeds, oily fish and chia seeds (Omega-3),
- Eggs, meat and oats (B Vitamins).
Prolonged periods of stress, with raised cortisol levels, place the immune system under strain. It's thought to impact your body's anti-inflammatory responses, as well as the way immune system cells communicate.
If you've experienced recent stress, and your immune system's playing up, try to relax more.
This is easier said that done! It's not an exact science either, as everyone relaxes differently. Experiment to find out what helps you disconnect and wind down, then do it often.
If your stress is work-related, consciously create a better work/life balance. Don't be tempted to turn on your laptop when you get home, or respond to emails from your phone.
Get the Right Amount of Exercise
We all know how amazing regularly exercise can be. That's why we're here, right?! It releases endorphins to make you feel good, and helps create a healthy, strong body.
But can you have too much of a good thing? Absolutely.
When it comes to exercise and the immune system, listen to your body. What is it telling you? Sometimes, time out is the best thing you can do. Don't be tempted to hit a WOD when your body's asking you rest. Go for walk or do some yoga instead.
Are you overdoing it? If you're not sure, check out this post for some of the most common signs you're in need of some recovery time.
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