If you’re always the first to catch a bug and fall sick too often, the problem may actually be in your lifestyle. The first thought in such situations is to look at your diet and make the appropriate changes to improve your immune system. But experts say that immunity is not just determined by our diet - it is a complex system that is affected by a number of other variable factors. To date, there is no absolute method you can use to boost your immunity.
So, if diet changes alone didn’t work for you, there are various changes you can consider making in your lifestyle to give a boost to your immune function and help you be more resilient against common infections.
Here are four such lifestyle changes that may help:
1. Get enough sleep
Experts say that sleep and circadian rhythms have a direct relation with immune health. When you sleep, your immune system makes more T-cells, which are a type of cells that help fight intracellular pathogens (viruses for example). Also, cytokines are produced and released in your body when you are asleep. Cytokines are immune system proteins that help fight infections. So, make sure that you get enough deep and uninterrupted sleep to keep your immune system in shape.
2. Workout daily
Regular exercise helps maintain your cardiovascular and overall health, thus warding off infections and diseases. Studies show that exercise makes certain changes in the immune system cells so they are better able to identify pathogens and hence fight them quickly. It also helps reduce inflammation and the effects of ageing on the immune system.
However, to get all the benefits of exercise, it is best to practice moderate-intensity exercises instead of a high-intensity workout. The latter has shown to have immunosuppressive effects in the short term.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Studies show that obesity can negatively impact immune function by changing the white blood cell (WBC) count and cell-mediated immunity (a type of immunity that we acquire after infection or age). It also increases inflammation in the body. Together, all of this makes one more prone to diseases and infections.
The importance of healthy body weight cannot be emphasised enough. To know if you are overweight, you can check your BMI. BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight in kgs by the square of your height in meters - Kg/m2.
If you have a BMI of 25 or above, you would be considered overweight.
4. Drink in moderation
Alcohol consumption acts in multiple ways to disrupt immune function and makes you prone to infections. Experts say that alcohol disrupts both your innate (the one you are born with) and adaptive (the one you acquire after exposure to infection) immune system.
Alcohol consumption gradually disrupts the balance of your gut microbiota (microbes that live in your intestines) which plays a great part in maintaining immunity. It also damages the barrier function in your gut which makes it easier for microbes to travel into your bloodstream and cause infection.
However, a review published in The British Journal of Nutrition suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial for the body.
For more information, read our article on How to increase immunity.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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