by Shanice Miranda, Cora Health.
If you ever feel alone, remember that you have a hidden group of soldiers that have always got your back- your immune system! What is immunity you ask? It is your body's natural defense against harmful invaders that enter it. Your blood and lymph carry the protective white blood cells which destroy pathogens and antigens. In this way, they prevent disease. There are differences in the innate immunological response between men and women. The two gender identities have characteristic hormones that affect overall resistance to illnesses (1). It's an unfortunate fact that 80% of autoimmune disease occurs in women. 15-17% of women are susceptible to migraines while only 3-5% of men have to deal with the same fate. Even for our hearts, women encounter heart attacks of severe intensity when compared to men. Do not let these statistics get you down. Instead, use them as a stepping stone to give you the motivation to implement healthier practices today, tomorrow and every day!
Give your body the respect it deserves with these healthy tips to strengthen your immunity:
1. Wholesome Diet
Indians spend an average of an hour and 27 minutes a day eating- Wouldn't you agree that we should make every second count? We need to get the right vitamins and nutrients that will fuel our soldiers so they are in the best form to tackle infections. Some of the foods we can incorporate into our diets are leafy vegetables, fruits, seeds and superfoods like tulsi, amla and kesar. They are irreplaceable sources of healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins A, B&C and minerals including iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium (2). Cutting out harmful sugars and consuming home-cooked meals will extract the greatest benefits from these ingredients.
Is there anything more satisfying than a chilled glass of water on a hot day? I think not. You've probably learnt that your body is nearly 60% water and in case you weren't paying attention in class, here's why- It is the fundamental component of every cell. Water is vital when it comes to flushing out toxins from our system. It is also utilized by our cells for metabolism and regulation of temperature (3). This makes drinking water extremely important for our health and immunity.
3. Moderate Exercise
Regular exercise for as little as half an hour a day can have massive benefits for your well-being. Movement gets the blood circulating efficiently throughout the body. Moderate exercise may remove unwanted substances from the respiratory tract as well. The release of natural endorphins is one of the best ways of reducing stress and anxiety which is directly related to your body's defense mechanisms.
4. Good Hygiene
This basic practice can do plenty of good for our immune system. Washing your hands often, especially before meals. Take regular showers – this one is obvious but did you know that cold showers have positive effects on your blood circulation? Coldwater may also stimulate the release of 'happy' endorphins that reduce stress, anxiety and depression (4).
Sleep is vital to one's immune system. For adults, keeping up with at least 7 hours of sleep is needed to keep this system going strong. Sleep deprivation may be linked to depression which can eventually lead to more serious ailments. Some of these are catching frequent colds, the flu and more (5). If you have trouble sleeping, try drinking a hot cup of tea and do not stimulate your eyes right before bed. Avoid the hassle by catching those much-needed Z's!
If you find that your diet might not have all the vitamins and minerals your body requires, you may use supplements. Turning to natural sources that are rich in probiotics, iron and antioxidants help the body to become stronger and fight off diseases easily (6). It is important to take supplements wisely, so ensure that you do not consume more than you need. Always consult your physician before consumption.
7. Relieve Stress
Your stress levels can have serious impacts on immunity- Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression and eating disorders that negatively affect your well-being. Besides this, stress levels enhance inflammation and cause various malfunctions in your innate defenses (7). Relieving Stress is very important for the body and the mind. Spend some time on the things that make you feel relaxed. Laughter is super effective when it comes to reducing stress- Put on a funny movie, pour yourself a glass of wine and spend time doing the things that make you smile!
We all deserve to live our lives to the fullest – How can we do so without our immune systems, which are continually at work unbeknownst to us? Ladies, leave the weakness and fatigue behind and be the goddesses you truly are! Prioritize your health and take these small steps to naturally boost your immunity.