Our immune systems do a great job of protecting us from disease and illness. However, sometimes our immune systems can let germs into our bodies, making us fall ill. Whatever your age, falling ill is not pleasant and it is something we all strive to avoid. One way we can try to avoid illness is by strengthening our immune systems, especially during the colder months. Cold weather creates a perfect climate for viruses and bacteria, meaning they are more likely to spread and contaminate people and surfaces. For tips on how to strengthen your immune system in preparation for the colder months, keep reading!
Get out in the sun
Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining one’s immune system and without it, our immune systems can become weak and susceptible to illness. Our skin is home to a cholesterol that produces vitamin D when exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D acquired from the sun can circulate in your body for twice as long than any vitamin D you may get from food or supplements. It has been suggested that as few as 8-15 minutes in the sun is enough to make a decent amount of vitamin D for lighter-skinned people. Those with darker skin may need to spend more time in the sun. This is because the natural skin pigment, melanin, blocks the UV-B rays that produce the vitamin D. Therefore, if you have darker skin you will need to spend at least 30 mins in the sun to get a sufficient amount of vitamin D.
Eat the right food
We can also raise our vitamin D levels through the food that we eat. The best food to eat for optimum vitamin D intake is fatty fish and sea food such as salmon, tuna, oysters, and shrimp to name a few. Another good food source for vitamin D is mushrooms. Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to UV-B light. Wild mushrooms or those commercially grown with UV light, have the highest levels of vitamin D. It is also advised that eating eggs, particularly their yolks, can be a great source of vitamin D. To ensure you get the optimum amount of vitamin D from your eggs, make sure you buy free range eggs. Free-range chickens that have access to sunlight will produce eggs with a higher vitamin D content than battery or caged hens without access to sunlight.
Get plenty of sleep
A lack of sleep can negatively affect your immune system. The National Sleep Foundation advise that adults (including those over 65 years of age) need around 7 – 9 hours of sleep every day to maintain a healthy immune system. It is important to get the correct amount of sleep as while sleeping, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines that help to fight infections, inflammation, and even stress! If you do not get enough sleep, the production of these proteins along with infection-fighting anti bodies will slow down, which could lead to illness.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect not only your immune system, but others too. Hand washing is imperative to good immune health as it kills the bacteria and viruses that can be transferred through human contact. Health officials say that washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds can remove germs from your hands and protect yourself and anyone else you may come into contact with. To protect your immune system and stop the spread of germs to others you should always wash your hands when preparing and eating food, caring for someone, using the toilet, treating a wound, coughing or sneezing, and after touching rubbish.
Studies show that as little as one session of light exercise can help to promote a healthy immune system by reducing inflammation and helping your immune system cells regenerate. Physical activity may also help to flush bacteria out of your airways and lungs, which could reduce your chances of getting a cold, flu, or other illness. Examples of light exercise include a brisk walk, a nice bicycle ride, simple yoga, or even playing golf regularly. However, be careful not to over do it. It has been discussed that intensive, long-term exercise such as marathon running, and intensive gym training could actually cause more harm than good to your immune system.
Following the suggestions above could help to strengthen your immune system, but they are not officially proven ways to completely prevent illness or COVID-19. Please stick to NHS and government guidelines in relation to COVID-19 to protect yourself and others around you. Please click here for more details: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus