The fuel you provide your body plays a crucial role in determining how well your immune system operates. According to the NZ Nutrition Foundation, a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats provides a wide range of essential nutrients your immune system needs to perform optimally. These include vitamins A, C, D and E, plus minerals like zinc and selenium. Consuming probiotics through yoghurt or fermented foods also supports gut health, another key component of the immune response.
Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health and a robust immune system. Not only does it boost the body's natural defence system, but it also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep quality – both crucial for immune health.
Well + Good recommends these seven tweaks for an immunity-boosting exercise routine, including mixing up your workouts, trying yoga, stretching and importantly, learning to listen to your body.
Sleep is a crucial, often overlooked, factor in maintaining a strong immune system. According to the Sleep Foundation, during sleep the body produces and distributes key immune cells. So, lack of sleep can disrupt this process, making you more susceptible to infections. That’s why prioritising good-quality sleep and establishing a consistent sleep routine are vital for bolstering your immune health.
Chronic stress can take a toll on the immune system, making you more prone to illness. While it's impossible to avoid all sources of stress, managing it effectively can help to preserve your immune system's effectiveness.
As this interesting article highlights, techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or simple deep-breathing exercises can be beneficial. Even taking time each day to engage in activities you enjoy can make a big difference in managing stress levels.
Excessive alcohol and smoking can both weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fend off infections and disease.
Aim to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines of not exceeding two standard drinks per day if you’re a woman, and three standard drinks per day if you’re a man. Plus, if you need help quitting tobacco or vaping for good, you may find some good resources at smokefree.org.nz.
While hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, avoiding dehydration is important for your overall health. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney functions, which in turn can lower your immune defences.
Boosting your immune system is about overall health maintenance. A balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoiding harmful habits form the blueprint for a robust immune system.
For personalised advice, consult a healthcare professional who can consider your specific health needs and circumstances. And remember, every step taken towards a healthier lifestyle counts in bolstering your body's natural defences.
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