How to keep your immune system strong

Having a strong and fully functioning immune system is more important now than ever. With coronavirus sweeping not just the nation but also the globe, we’re all doing everything in our power to protect ourselves. While we can’t control everything, we do have a say in certain things. Keep scrolling to learn how to keep your immune system healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. But please note that these ideas are relevant in any case – not only Covid-19 related.

Wash your hands like you mean it

So we started learning the importance of washing your hands back in preschool, and we’re going to revisit it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers specific tips for hand-washing. Lather and scrub your hands for 20 seconds, which equates to singing “Happy Birthday” twice. Get the palms and the tops of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails, too.

Dry them with a towel or let them air-dry. You might want to avoid hand-dryers, though. Although they’re an eco-friendly option, according to Harvard Health Publishing, they might be sucking bacteria out of the air and then blowing it onto your clean hands. If you’re not able to use soap, opt for a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub it all over your hands until they feel dry. If you are stuck with no sanitises check out our socials with some ideas on how to make your own. @fittechstudios.

Get plenty of good quality sleep

sleep enough?

The news and social media might be keeping you up late at night with startling headlines, but we have a good reason to unplug and get some shut-eye. Your body heals and regenerates while you sleep, making adequate sleep critical for a healthy immune response. More specifically, sleep is a time when your body produces and distributes key immune cells like cytokines (a type of protein that can either fight or promote inflammation), T cells (a type of white blood cell that regulates immune response), and interleukin 12 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine).

For a more human readable explanation 😊 : When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system may not do these things as well, making it less able to defend your body against harmful invaders and making you more likely to get sick. One study published in the July–August 2017 issue of Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that compared with healthy young adults who did not have sleep problems, otherwise healthy young adults with insomnia were more susceptible to the flu even after getting vaccinated.

Sleep deprivation also elevates cortisol levels, which of course is also not good for immune function. Our immune system wears down as a result, and we tend to have [fewer] reserves to fight off or recover from illness.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends all adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night to optimize health. To ensure you get quality sleep, prioritize good sleep hygiene: Turn off the electronics at least two to three hours before bed, and avoid violent or stressful books or conversations, Lin says.

Maintain a healthy weight

You probably already know that it’s important to your overall health that you stay at a safe weight. However, it gets more complicated than this. Studies suggest that obesity might lead to an impaired immune response or functioning. This, in turn, can increase your chances of getting a number of infections.

It’s not about aesthetics. It’s about health. When our typical schedules, habits, and routines are thrown off, it can sometimes lead to fluctuations in our weight. It’s understandable, but right now, it’s vital that you maintain a healthy weight so that you can have a strong immune system. The two most powerful ways to accomplish this are through fitness and nutrition. And on that note…

Be Active… Get some regular exercise

Aside from keeping you from going stir-crazy, staying physically active can help keep your immune system healthy, too.

While we can’t prove cause and effect, some research does suggest that exercise can help your immunity in a few different ways.

  • It might help flush bacteria out of your lungs, which reduces your chance of illness.
  • The increase in your body temperature when you exercise can stop bacteria from growing and also boost your body’s ability to fight infection.
  • Physical activity slows down the release of stress hormones in your body. This can protect you against disease.
  • Exercise makes your antibodies/white blood cells (which fight disease) circulate faster.

Even if your gym (including us) has shut down due to coronavirus concerns, you can still train at home with a simple free guide we have here on our website . Also a lot of studios (including us) has started online training offerings. You don’t need any equipment or weights to get the job done. Bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, air squats, jump squats, jumping jacks, planks, and mountain climbers will suffice. 

Get moving, get your heart rate up a little, and give your lungs a little burn. It’ll do wonders for your immune system health. Studies that have looked at how exercise affects the body on a cellular level suggest that bouts of physical activity may make your immune system more vigilant by distributing immune cells throughout your body to look for damaged or infected cells.

Eat a healthy Diet… Eat your veggies

Extra time at home might mean indulging in more comfort food and letting your normal healthy eats fall by the wayside. But you might want to rethink adopting these new habits because what you put in your mouth can affect your immunity.

Is your diet geared toward keeping your immune system healthy? Eat plenty of fiber and antioxidants, which you can find in fruits and vegetables. Protein also helps your immune system do its job, so if you can help it, stock up on chicken, fish, eggs, egg whites, or something like seitan, for a meatless option. (Remember that meat will keep for quite a bit in the freezer.)

More specifically, micronutrients like copper, iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, B6, C, E, and folic acid are important for solid immunity.

On the other hand, be cautious with fat and sugar, which can make you more susceptible to disease. No, you don’t have to cut them out completely. Just consume them in moderation and remember that for every bite you take, your body is going to have a reaction. It’s up to you what kind of reaction that is.

The nutrients you get from food — in particular, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices — are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly, according to Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Many plant-based foods also have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which help us fight off infection,” Dr. Lin says. Fuel yourself properly and your immune system will thank you for it.

Keep stress under control

According to a review published in the October 2015 issue of Current Opinion in Psychology, long-term stress leads to chronically elevated levels of as the steroid hormone cortisol. The body relies on hormones like cortisol during short-term bouts of stress (when your body goes into “fight-or-flight” response); cortisol has a beneficial effect of actually preventing the immune system from responding before the stressful event is over (so your body can react to the immediate stressor). But when cortisol levels are constantly high, it essentially blocks the immune system from kicking into gear and doing its job to protect the body against potential threats from germs like viruses and bacteria.

RELATED: All About How Stress Affects the Body

There are many effective stress-reduction techniques; the key is to find what works for you. “I like to give my patients options,” says Ben Kaplan, MD, an internal medicine physician at Orlando Health Medical Group Internal Medicine in Florida. He recommends meditation (apps like Headspace and Calm can help), journaling, and any activity that you enjoy (such as fishing, playing golf, or drawing). Try to do at least one stress-reducing activity every day. Short on time? Start small. Set aside five minutes at some point each day for fun and increase it when you can.

Have your alcohol in moderation

Drinking high amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of negative health effects, including lowered immune function. When you drink high amounts of alcohol, your body is too busy trying to detoxify your system to bother with normal immune system function, Kaplan explains.

According to a review published in the journal Alcohol Research in 2015, high levels of alcohol consumption can weaken your body’s ability to fight infection and slow down your recovery time. As a result, people who drink high amounts of alcohol face a greater likelihood of pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, alcoholic liver disease, and certain cancers, according to the same review.

If you don’t already drink, don’t start. If you drink occasionally, limit your alcohol consumption to one drink (equivalent to a 4-ounce glass of wine) per day if you’re a woman, and two drinks per day if you’re a man, as recommended by the NIH.

Keep Symptoms of chronic conditions under control

Chronic conditions like asthmaheart disease, and diabetes can affect the immune system and increase risk of infections. For example, when people with type 2 diabetes don’t manage their blood sugar properly, this can create a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response that weakens the body’s defense system, according to an October 2019 review in Current Diabetes Reviews.

Similarly, people with asthma are more susceptible to catching — and even dying from — the flu, and often experience worse flu and asthma symptoms as a result of the infection, according to a study published in the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Living with a chronic condition can be like trying to drive a car that has only three tires, Kaplan says. “If you get sick with a virus, it’s going to take more effort for your body to recover,” he explains. If you manage your chronic conditions better, you’ll free up more reserves to help your body fight off infection. So be sure to stay on top of any medications, GP visits, and healthy habits that keep your symptoms at bay. Your immune system will thank you. Remember that you GP can work together with your allied health professional – the Exercise Physiologist (EP) to help you guide your through the hard times. Also Medicare has got the Care Plan – for more info see here . Did you know that our team member David is an EP? Feel free to reach out to david@fittechstudios.com.au with questions. And we are telehealth ready.

Electro muscular stimulation to the rescue

We need all the help we can get right now. In addition to staying active and properly nourishing yourself, you can also use an electric muscle stimulation device like Visionbody as your companion.

This will especially come in handy if your normal training routine took a serious hit. Visionbody offers a number of benefits, including better mobility, reduced inflammation, diminished pain , improved blood circulation, and faster recovery.

Use it while you train. Use it while you rest. You’ll enjoy the benefits either way. Electric muscle stimulation used to be available only through medical and sports specialists, but we’ve made it more accessible and affordable than ever. 

We’ve always had your back when it’s come to keeping you safe, healthy, and injury-free, and that isn’t going to change.

Visit our website for more train at home ideas

See you on the other side

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