22 December 2021
2 min read
Your immune system protects your body from harmful substances, germs, and cell changes that could potentially make you sick.
A lot of different factors play a part in building up one's immunity. Some factors are genetic and may have inevitable consequences on our immune systems, so we must observe good habits with the ones we are capable of having control over. Without a healthy immune system, we’d have no way to defend our body against things like bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause infection.
With the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines, we must always take care of ourselves, observe good health habits and keep our immune system healthy to lower our risk of illness.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is not only an important part of maintaining good health, but it can also help you feel your best. The gut is a major site of immune activity and a healthy diet would help protect an individual against malnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
The exact make-up of a healthy, balanced diet would vary depending on the individual, their condition, lifestyle, and other factors but generally, it is important that we eat a variety of foods. Diets that are limited in variety and lacking in nutrients can negatively affect an individual’s immune system. It’s essential to consume less salt, sugars, as well as saturated and industrially-produced trans fat and ingest a more nourishing variety of foods, which include: staples (like cereals, starchy tubers, or roots), lentils, beans, fruits, vegetables, and food from animal sources.
For most, a balanced diet will supply adequate amounts of nutrition to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. In other cases, there is a need for vitamin or mineral supplements. These are primarily meant for the people who don’t have access to a variety of nutritious food or who have increased nutritional needs. It’s important to remember that while these supplements may be available, our immune systems would still hope to gain more nutrients from real food.
Similar to a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and towards building a healthy immune system. With regular exercise, you could improve your cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, control body weight, reduce stress, and protect yourself against a variety of diseases.
According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercises each week, which would be like 20 minutes every day. You may choose to exercise a variety of different ways depending on your preference as it could include: sports, walking, or even, given the pandemic, indoor exercises like yoga, isometric exercises, and resistance band exercises. While important that you can get your regular exercise, it’s also essential to follow social distancing guidelines, because even though exercise may boost your immune system, it wouldn’t prevent infection if you are directly exposed to germs.
For optimal strengthening of your immune system, it would be ideal to incorporate different types of exercise into your routine. Remember, though, that while exercising may be important, it should still be done in moderation. Take care to rest in between exercises to allow your body to recover from the stressors of your physical exertions.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help strengthen your immune system. Regular quality sleep allows our bodies to produce cytokines, proteins that regulate the body’s response to disease and infection, and T-cells, or white blood cells with an essential role in our immune response to viral infections like Covid-19. Poor quality or lack of sleep negatively impacts the production of these cells and proteins, making our immune system vulnerable to illness, and may also affect our recovery later on when we are sick. Without regular quality sleep, our health will suffer and we could be at risk for many different conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
It’s been reported that most adults require about 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night. While factual, the amount of sleep needed is dependent on the individual and their situation as others may need more or less than the general recommendation. We must be able to identify how much sleep we require and stick to a schedule that meets those needs. Consistency is one of the most important components of getting quality sleep. Sticking to a schedule for going to sleep and waking up that meets your needs would encourage better sleep. Some other tips to get better and more quality sleep include: regular exercise, less caffeine, aromatherapy, and meditation.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines, many Filipinos’ way of life has been drastically and involuntarily changed. Since the community quarantine and lockdown measures, business activities were dramatically limited and whole sectors of the economy were temporarily shut down. Furthermore, while non-essential personnel was restricted to their homes, drastic changes were made to work and education arrangements. Given the situation, it wouldn’t be a shock that many people have been led to experience some degree of stress in some manner.
Stress is difficult to define and sometimes, to identify, as it may present itself differently depending on the individual. What may appear to be a stressful situation for one person may not be so for someone else. It’s a normal part of life, sometimes serving as a source of motivation but other times an overwhelming feeling of burden. Either way, we must understand that long-term/chronic stress can take a toll on and weaken our immune system. With the presence of stress, our immune system is unable to produce cells called lymphocytes, which are needed to help fight against viruses.
If you’re dealing with stress, take the time to identify the sources and find ways to avoid or cope with them. Stress management could include: staying connected with friends and/ or family, meditation, and exercise.
Photo From Dashlabs.ai
If you’ve noticed that you’re often sick, feel fatigued, or have other nagging symptoms you can’t figure out, it may mean your immune system is weakened.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many are taking additional precautions to stay healthy. During uncertain times, the most practical course of action would always be to get tested. Afraid you’re experiencing symptoms of sickness? Consult a doctor. Feel well but might have come into contact with someone sick? Book your appointment today and get tested. Visit Dashlabs.ai to find a test at a time and location most convenient for you.
Written by: MACDV
Copyedited by: MKD