The key to maintaining good health is to keep a check on your immune system. A strong immune system protects us from diseases and illnesses. With rising pollution, modern lifestyle and poor eating habits, it can become difficult to maintain immunity but we must do our bit to ensure that these factors do not adversely affect our health. Here we have listed ways to strengthen your immune system and the signs of weak immune system:
Signs of Weak Immune System
Falling ill often is a sign of weak immunity. If you are a prey to cold, flu, rashes and allergies, you should get your immunity checked and work towards a healthier lifestyle. Weak immunity also results in complaints of urinary infections, blisters in the mouth, swelling in the gums and lymph nodes.
Any issues relating to the stomach can mean weak immunity. Constipation, indigestion, bloating, acidity or gas complaints - are all symptoms of a weak immune system. An easy way to avoid these problems is by incorporating probiotics like curd and buttermilk into the diet.
Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Water is one of the key sources of strength for the immune system. It is essential for the functioning of kidneys and removing toxins from the body. Adequate hydration ensures that the immune system regains its strength and thus increases your immunity.
Sufficient Sleeping Hours
Your body and brain need rest in order to function properly. It is important to take 6-8 hours of sleep every night, without which the immune system doesn’t get time to rebuild.
Healthy Eating Habits
Take a complete and balanced diet to increase immunity. Your diet must include fruits, vegetables and cereals as they are rich in vitamins and fibre. Vegetables like broccoli and cabbage produce a chemical that prevents the growth of cancer cells and help boost immunity. Stay away from tobacco and alcohol as they weaken the immune system.
Yoga and pranayama go a long way in ensuring physical as well as Mental Health. Yoga not only increases immunity but also helps in managing hormonal imbalances and controlling diseases.
Physical activity is a must to keep your body fit and active. Brisk walks, jogging, playing a sport are some ways to strengthen your immune system.
Eat more whole Plant foods
Whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and seeds are rich sources of nutrients and antioxidants. A study on 61,000 people proved that the prevalence of type-2 diabetes in non-vegetarians is 6.1% compared to 2.9% in vegans.
Eat more fermented foods and take a probiotic supplement
Fermented food items are rich in probiotics which are necessary for digestion. Foods like yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc., improve the gut and help absorb nutrients and minerals. A 28 days study on 152 people suffering from rhinovirus proved that people who consumed probiotic.
Limit added sugars
Excessive intake of sugar results in obesity and increases heart problems. Limiting sugar consumption reduces the chance of inflammation and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. In an observational study on 1,000 people, vaccinated obese individuals were more likely to catch flu than people with optimum BMI.
Manage your stress levels
Prolonged stress and depression suppress the immune system in both grownups and children. Therefore, it is necessary to practise meditation, yoga, exercise, and other practices that relieve stress levels. In a study, PCMBs collected from a five-year-old child with acute stress was 26, while in a stress-free child of 5 years old, it was 52.
Taking supplements is an effective way to meet several body requirements. However, you must take supplemental medicines wisely to improve your immune system.
1. Vitamin C: A review of 11,000 people suggests that taking Vitamin C (1,000-2,000 mg) reduces the cold duration in children by 14% and in adults by 8%.
2. Vitamin D: Supplementing with vitamin-D only works in case of deficiency in the body.
3. Zinc: In a study on 575 people, a zinc supplement with over 75 mg reduced the cold duration by 33%.
4. Elderberry: In a study, Elderberry proved to reduce the signs of upper respiratory infection.
5. Echinacea: In a study conducted on more than 700 patients, Echinacea treated colds quickly.
6. Garlic: A 12-week study conducted on 46 people proved that garlic reduces the risk of the common cold by 30%.
Add Healthy Diet To Increase Immunity
Incorporating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system. Listed below is a list of food items that are rich in essential nutrients and help keep your immune system strong:
Fruits- Fruits are rich in vitamins and fibre. It is really beneficial to include fruits like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons and kiwis in your diet as they have high amounts of vitamin C - one of the biggest immune system boosters.
Red Bell Pepper- Red bell pepper is rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene and helps keep your eyes and Skin Healthy.
Almonds- Soaked almonds not only help with immunity but also provide power to the brain to fight stress. Vitamin E helps generate natural killer cells which destroy viral and cancerous cells. Almonds also increase B type cells in the body, which produce antibodies.
Broccoli- Add Broccoli to your diet to increase immunity. It can be incorporated easily into salads and vegetables to provide good amounts of protein and calcium.
Garlic – It is antibacterial and antiviral. One or two garlic cloves should be eaten every day to increase immunity.
Yogurt - Yogurt is a great source of vitamin D which helps regulate the immune system and boosts our body’s natural defences against diseases.
Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and play an important role in maintaining immune system functions.
Mushrooms - Mushrooms help in activating the white blood cells and contain antioxidant elements and vitamin-B which strengthen the body's immune system.
Blueberries - It contains anthocyanin, which is a type of flavonoid. The antioxidative properties of anthocyanin boost the immunity of human beings. Flavonoids also play a vital role in strengthening the respiratory tract immune system.
Turmeric- This is a type of spice generally used in cooking. Curcumin, a turmeric compound, helps boost the immune system and the body's defence mechanism.
Ginger- Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties that improve health conditions and immune response. Ginger is also helpful as a herb in many drinks.
Green tea - It contains flavonoids that reduce the risks of the common cold. Its caffeine content is comparatively lower than coffee and black tea. Therefore, it also acts as an antioxidative agent for the body.
There are multiple ways of improving your immune system to reduce the chances of infections. Dietary change, regular exercise, remaining hydrated, supplement intake, etc., are common ways of strengthening the body's defence mechanisms.
Q. How do you know if your immunity is strong or not?
A. Getting a red itchy bump due to a mosquito bite is the most common sign that your immune system is strong. However, your defence mechanism is weak if you catch a cold and cough quickly.
Q. What causes a low immune system?
A. There are multiple reasons for having a weak immune system. Some of them are unhealthy diets, autoimmune disorders, certain medications, and unhealthy lifestyles.
Q. At what age is your immune system strongest?
A. Generally, people under the age group of 10 to 50 years have the strongest immune system compared to the elderly and infants.
Q. What are three common diseases of the immune system?
A. Three most common diseases of a weak immune system are type 2 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Follow the above steps and see how it helps you ward off illnesses and increase your immunity.