Having a healthy immune system is essential when it comes to protecting our bodies from germs and viruses that could lead to serious illnesses. Boosting immunity and maintaining are some of the many measures we can take to ensure good health, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
So, what can you do to boost your immunity and stay healthy during these uncertain times? Firstly, understand what your body needs with the help of your doctor, who will be the right person to guide you through this, and secondly, adopt a healthy lifestyle. You might think it’s easier said than done, but not really! Here are some ways you can boost your family’s and your immunity to fight through these trying times.
7 Ways to Boost Your Immunity and Stay Healthy
Some of these recommendations have been tried for ages, and many would vouch for them. They are what our mothers and grandmothers always had us follow when we were young. Now is the time to recollect all that free knowledge we received, and put it to good use!
Here are some things you can do:
1. Watch Your Diet
Improving your diet is one of the many effective ways of boosting your immunity. Go for fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, which will nourish your body with good amounts of macro and micronutrients. Decrease the intake of sugars and deep-fried foods. Alternatively, you can use jaggery or honey, and bake your snacks instead of frying them, if you cannot do without them!
As much as possible, avoid crash diets or trending diets to lose weight. Remember that some diet plans may help you lose weight quickly at the cost of your immunity. Also, reconsider intermittent fasting unless your doctor recommends it, and never skip a meal. Most importantly, have a healthy breakfast every day. It will help you gain the energy you need to get through the morning.
Add probiotics to your meals. It is a great way to maintain your gut health, which is essential to boost immunity. A bowl of curd without sugar, or a glass of buttermilk after a meal, will do the trick.
These stressful times also call for comfort food. When a craving hits, go for healthy options such as soups, fruits, juices, herbal teas, wholewheat bread, wholewheat cookies, etc., instead of fried foods, desserts, and highly processed foods.
Your choice of beverages also needs to be reconsidered and replaced with healthy options if needed. Avoid sugary drinks, sodas, excessive coffee or tea, and replace them with fresh juices, herbal brews, healthy shakes, etc. Or, just stick to water!
It is also recommended that you avoid alcohol, as it impairs immune cells, compromises the body’s immune system, and makes you more vulnerable to diseases. It also adversely affects mental health – and poor mental health consequently impacts your physical health.
2. Stay Hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is equally imperative for a healthy immune system. Adults should consume about 2.7 to 3.7 litres of water, kids aged 9-13 years should consume 1.3 to 1.7 litres, while teenagers should have 1.7 to 3 litres of water every day to remain hydrated.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D., discoverer of Vitamin C, once said, “Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium”. But, some would find its simplicity boring. To make it enjoyable, one can flavour it with healthy fruits, make herbal brews, soups, etc. Try to avoid sugar, though, as that will defeat the purpose of consuming a healthy drink. It is better to avoid vitamin water and energy drinks, too, as they have added sugars.
3. Get Regular Checkups
Regular checkups will help you ensure your health is on the right track, especially if you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, blood sugar and blood pressure issues, heart conditions, etc. They will also help you get timely treatment as and when required. Having said that, heading to the hospital for a regular checkup might seem next to impossible for many, since the number of COVID-19 cases is spiking all over the country. In that case, you must stay in touch with your doctor, and follow their guidance to the T to prevent any health complications.
4. Take Prescribed Supplements
Sometimes, the food you consume may not provide you with enough nutrients. Supplements may come in handy to meet your micronutrient needs and keep your immunity up. There are a number of supplements available over the counter, but it is recommended that you consult with your doctor for multivitamin and mineral supplements that can meet your unique needs and benefit your immune system.
5. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
There is absolutely no alternative to exercise, especially when we are quarantining and confining ourselves to safer indoor spaces. If you are a gym go-er, you might find it difficult to maintain your fitness with the sudden change to an indoor setting. Well, all you need to do is remind yourself that you don’t need a gym to stay fit!
The Physical Training (PT) exercises, the dance lessons, and the upbeat aerobics sessions you enjoyed so much once upon a time can become a part of your routine once again. You can also include a good mix of yoga and other exercises that involve natural body movements, such as walking in the balcony or garden.
Two yoga asanas that are making news during the pandemic for all the good reasons are Anulom Vilom (alternate breathing technique) and Kapalbhati (breath of fire). They facilitate the proper functioning of the lungs, thus strengthening the respiratory system, boosting brain-oxygen levels, improving cardiovascular health, and helping to relieve stress and anxiety.
Other techniques that may help you maintain your general respiratory and mental health are lying in the prone position (self proning), singing, humming, Omkar Pranayama (Omkar chanting) and meditation. Proning especially helps provide breathing comfort and oxygenation if one has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home.
Source: Proning for Self Care
6. Avoid Smoking
Smoking, just like alcohol, also compromises the immune system. It can deplete your immune response to pathogens and increase the risk of diseases, such as allergies, respiratory, cardiovascular, and autoimmune diseases, as well as cancer.
7. Sleep and Rejuvenate!
When we were kids, our parents have always insisted on us getting a good night’s sleep, because it helps maintain overall health and wellbeing. It also helps the body recover faster from ailments and diseases. Adults should get about 7 hours of sleep, while kids should sleep for about 9 to 12 hours every day. When you sleep better, you’ll feel better, and experience a positive and happy vibe all day long.
Boosting immunity can be a tricky thing. While most of the tips provided above ensure general wellbeing, some, such as diet, may have to be revisited and modified to suit your health requirements. Therefore, consulting your dietician and doctor is recommended. With just a little bit of effort, you can be on your way to living a healthy life even during these uncertain times!
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