We rely heavily on our immune system to protect us from a range of ailments, from the common flu to more serious conditions such as cancer. But even catching a simple cold – though often not fatal – can take a toll on our bodies. It affects our mood and our physical ability. Thus, it becomes very important that you boost your immunity to prevent colds.
What does your immune system do?
According to the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the immune system is a network of cells and tissues in the body that work together to prevent or limit infection. The immune system is complex and its network covers the whole body, extending from the skin to deep inside bone marrow.
The cells and tissue that make up the immune system each serve different roles. The immune system works by recognizing unhealthy cells that may have been damaged by infectious microorganisms or other non-infectious agents.
These cells then communicate with other cells to coordinate a response in addressing an illness or disease. More research is being done to understand how the immune system works and how you can boost your immunity to prevent colds and other diseases.
Does a healthy lifestyle strengthen your immune system?
While a healthy lifestyle has proven to have positive medical benefits, studies are still underway to understand if this effectively boosts the immune system. Although a clear link has yet to be established, there is no harm in leading a generally more healthy lifestyle.
Colds are among the most common diseases that people experience. In the United States, The Center for Disease Control estimates that adults catch the cold an average of three times per year. Children are known to contract the common cold even more.
While it is typically considered nonfatal, with symptoms easing up in as early as seven days with proper rest, the common cold can have more serious impact on the vulnerable such as toddlers, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions.
Aside from practicing proper hygiene and keeping away from people who may have the disease, having a strong immune system is accepted to be beneficial in fighting off the disease and recovering faster from it.
How to boost your immunity to prevent colds
Good health and healthy habits are not built overnight. To achieve a healthier lifestyle, you can start gradually by adopting small changes. Here are some tips to boost your immunity to prevent colds and other illnesses.
1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Certain foods are shown to boost the immune system and help our body prevent colds. Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables act as an antioxidant, fighting off free radicals known to damage the immune system.
2. Get active
Another effective tip to boost your immunity to prevent colds is to incorporate 30 minutes of regular physical activity at least three times a week.
Regular exercise promotes good blood circulation, allowing cells and substances in our body to move and work more efficiently. Simple exercises like walking, yoga, dancing, biking, swimming, and other low impact activities are recommended.
3. Don’t smoke. But if you do, consider quitting
We often see the warning: smoking kills. Not only has it been found to directly cause cancer, it weakens the immune system by making a smoker more prone to catching colds and infections.
Smoking damages the lungs and makes one more vulnerable to developing bronchitis and/ or pneumonia.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Excess body fat may compromise the body’s immune system and may lead to heart disease and other illnesses. Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, triggers inflammation in the body.
Chronic inflammation may then lead to one developing chronic diseases. Keep a healthy weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly
5. Get enough rest
Not getting enough sleep or skimping on it will make a person more susceptible to sickness.
Adults need at least eight to nine hours of sleep per night. One tip for better, more restful sleep: Avoid caffeine before bedtime and make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet to ensure deeper, more quality sleep.
6. Try to minimize stress
Studies show that managing chronic stress may help our body fight off illnesses. When we are under stress, our body compensates by producing cortisol, a hormone that helps the body deal with stressful situations.
To minimize stress, find a calming activity you enjoy doing like gardening, reading a book, watching a movie, cooking, listening to music, and meditating.
7. Try to add supplements to boost the immune system
Although supplements and vitamins cannot prevent an illness, they may help boost your immunity to prevent colds and other diseases. Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient said to boost the immune system, and has been known to decrease inflammation and increase immune response.
Vitamin C and Zinc also help with inflammation. Take precautionary measures when taking supplements and consult your doctor.
The link between a healthy lifestyle and a stronger immune system are still not clear.
But it is widely accepted and promoted by the medical community that you try to maintain ideal weight, eat a balanced diet, and lead an active lifestyle to boost your immunity to prevent colds.
Practicing the tips above do improve a person’s overall health, making one less susceptible to illness.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.