How To Boost Your Immune System
Your immune system is precisely that, a (quite complex) system. And to function correctly, it requires balance and support. Usually, it does an outstanding job at fighting off infections, but sometimes it can fail. Are there any ways you can intervene in this highly complicated process to ensure your immune system has all the help it needs to function optimally?
The answer is yes! There are a number of simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to boost your immune system and support your body in fighting off infections, something extraordinarily important in the age of Covid-19. In general, eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, engaging in moderate exercise, and reducing stress in your life all help support your immune system. Let’s look into every single one of them in more detail:
Get enough sleep
Sleep and a robust immune system go hand in hand since not enough sleep and poor sleep quality are linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Sleep provides essential support to your immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defence that features strong innate and adaptive immunity and more efficient response to vaccines.
So, make it a priority to get a sufficient amount of uninterrupted sleep every night. Having a consistent sleep schedule, limiting screen time for an hour before bed, and sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask will significantly improve your sleep hygiene.
Dehydration can cause headaches, impede normal heart and kidney function, impact cognitive function, and make you more susceptible to illness, so be sure you’re drinking plenty of water every day.
As the name suggests, water is the main component of lymph (from lympha, which in Latin means… water), the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system and whose function is to return fluid and proteins from your tissues to your central circulation. Also, lymph does transport bacteria to the lymph nodes where they are destroyed, so the lymphatic system is vital for the optimal functioning of our general and specific immune responses.
But how much water is enough? Everyone’s daily water needs are different, and they are mainly based on your gender and age, how much you are sweating (due to exercise, hot weather, etc.) and your health. Nevertheless, as a good rule of thumb, the adequate total water intake is 3.7 litres for men and 2.7 litres for women per day.
Physical activity isn’t just for keeping fit and helping you de-stress. It also improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and has a profound effect on the normal functioning of the immune system.
But make sure you don’t overdo it. Whereas frequent exercise of moderate intensity can be beneficial, prolonged periods of intensive exercise training can depress immunity. Elite athletes frequently report symptoms associated with upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) during periods of heavy training.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You can exercise every day or spread your exercise sessions over 4 to 5 days a week. Also, try to reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some sort of activity.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress gets a really bad rap these days, but in reality, short-term stress response, also known as the “fight or flight” response, is one of nature’s fundamental but under-appreciated survival mechanisms. By fastening heart rate, increasing oxygen flow to muscles, and numbing pain receptors, this type of short-term stress response helps to prepare our bodies to confront or avoid danger.
The problem starts when this response is regularly provoked by less momentous day-to-day events leading to long-term or chronic stress. It is proven that long-term stress can suppress or dysregulate innate and adaptive immune responses by causing chronic inflammation (inflammation plays an important role in the onset and progression of a wide range of diseases), and suppressing numbers, trafficking, and function of immunoprotective cells. It may also increase susceptibility to certain types of cancer.
Unfortunately, we cannot avoid all sources of stress in our daily lives. Still, we can use various techniques and activities to control and reduce our stress levels like mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, and breath focus.
What vitamins are best for boosting your immune system?
Eating a well-balanced, vitamin-rich diet can be a great help to your body fighting off illness. Vitamins are organic compounds essential for a large number of physiological processes. They are required in small amounts in our diet because they cannot be synthesised in sufficient quantities by our body.
Vitamins have long been known to influence the immune system. Some vitamins, such as vitamins C and E, can act in a relatively nonspecific manner in the immune system, such as antioxidants. Other vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, can influence the immune response in very specific ways. But which are the most essential vitamins for boosting our immune system?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for the body to develop and function correctly, and it plays a vital role in immune function. An interesting fact is that although most animals can synthesise their own vitamin C, humans and certain other animals must acquire it from dietary sources. Research indicates that taking vitamin C regularly may not prevent infection, but it does reduce the average duration and severity of the common cold. Also, it is essential for healthy skin as, without this vitamin, collagen made by the body is too unstable to perform its function, and several other enzymes in the body do not operate correctly.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- brussels sprouts
Vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps you maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthens your immune system. And on the plus side, any vitamin E your body does not use immediately is stored for future use.
Good sources of vitamin E include:
- plant oils – such as rapeseed, sunflower, soya, corn and olive oil
- nuts and seeds
- wheatgerm – found in cereals and cereal product
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is an essential vitamin that supports and strengthens vision, reproduction and bone growth, plays an important role in gene transcription, and boosts immunity by promoting the proliferation of T cells, among others. Carotenoids, a type of vitamin A found in plant foods, are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation. Also, similar to vitamin E, any excess vitamin A your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use.
Good sources of vitamin A include:
- oily fish
- fortified low-fat spreads
- milk and yoghurt
- liver and liver products
Though perhaps best known for its bone, teeth, and muscle health benefits (it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body), vitamin D also plays a critical role in strengthening our innate and adaptive immune responses – the immune system is made up of two parts: the innate, (general) and the adaptive (specialised).
The primary natural source of vitamin D is a chemical reaction dependent on sun exposure. Unfortunately, only a few foods, such as the flesh of fatty fish, naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D. Also, as vitamin D can be synthesised in adequate quantities by exposure to sufficient sunlight, it is not technically, so to speak, a vitamin. Instead, it can be considered a hormone.
From late March until the end of September, most people can obtain all the vitamin D they need through sunlight and a balanced diet. You need to get vitamin D from your diet during the autumn and winter because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D (especially in the UK). But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter is highly recommended.
Good sources of vitamin D include:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
How can Effect Doctors help you boost your immune system?
We discussed how eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, engaging in moderate exercise, and reducing stress in your life all help support your immune system. But anyone living a busy life trying to balance work, family, and personal time can confirm that achieving all the above is easier said than done.
Effect Doctors are here to help by offering a wide range of IV Drips that provide you with precisely what you need to boost your immune system whenever you need it.
As one of London’s leading IV Drip clinics, we offer a unique range of intravenous drips, all of which are administered by our team of trained doctors. Each IV contains a different combination of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.
Take a look at our IV Drips specifically designed to help fight off infection and strengthen the immune system:
Vitamin C IV Drip
Under the Weather
The Immunity Drip
The Effect Doctors award-winning team is made up of a diverse group of highly trained specialists and NHS-trained medical professionals. Our primary goal is to provide our customers with the highest level of care.
All of our treatments are designed in-house and built upon safe and effective care developed from our combined years of medical and professional training.