We are aware that keeping our immune system strong is very important from our health and fitness point of view. It is even more important if you do intense workouts. There are multiple vitamins and minerals which will help you maintain your immunity. Vitamin C does not do everything, always remember. (Of Course, it is one of the most important vitamins). So do not rely on vitamin C alone. There are other important ways to boost your body’s immune system, stay healthy and fit, which I will show you in this blog.
But before we start, I personally feel in order to maintain your health and fitness, a daily workout is a very important tool. An individual who does it consistently is sure to stay healthy and fit.
Now, what is an immune system and why is it so important to improve our overall health and fitness?
The immune system is made up of special organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). The immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells (B- and T-lymphocytes) known as memory cells. This means it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again before it can multiply and make you feel sick.
There are two major subsystems of an immune system
- Innate system
- Adaptive immune system
The innate system is the one that includes basic roadblocks that prevent pathogens from crossing them and damaging the health of our body. Roadblocks like skin, hair, mucous membranes, the linings in the mouth and nostrils, even the wax in our ears. These roadblocks are the body’s first line of defence, so to speak, against pathogens. We’re born with these innate immune system mechanisms, hence the name “innate.”
Other is the adaptive immune system, which is specific to particular pathogens. Vaccinations are an example of an adaptive immune system. You are given a shot that will protect you from certain diseases. You are not naturally born with adaptive immunity, like the innate system. Hence you have to acquire it. Now how can we acquire this in order to maintain our health and fitness shall be discussed in 7 ways?
But before we begin on our journey to understand what those 7 ways are, let’s get into the concept of exercise and see if that helps to build the immune system.
Chronic stress will cause havoc on your immune system. This stress can come from any means such as work, sports, finance and of course exercises.
Exercising is a two-way street. Now, what does this mean? This means that moderate-intensity exercise improves the adaptive immune system by way of how it responds to and fights pathogens. Intense exercise, however, can compromise the immune system. Exercise is like a lot of things: Too little is bad, but so is too much. You must be wondering that if intense exercise compromises the immune system, then why should we perform it?
Answer to this is YES! It does compromise your immune system but just a little and that too for a short period of time. Meaning in the immediate hours of intense exercise I would suggest you not going out in public places immediately after intense exercise. But instead, if proper care to recover from your intense workout, your immune system will bounce back and become even stronger.
It’s when you don’t recover that your immune system remains in a compromised state and you find yourself sick all the time, running low on energy, and losing strength and muscle mass.
Let us now jump into the most awaited 7 ways to build your immune system and improve your health and fitness.
1. Get plenty of sleep
Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is very critical for enabling a full recovery when doing intense exercise. Sleep is absolutely critical for an optimally functioning immune system. We know that when people are sleep deprived, their immune systems take a dig.
As they beautifully say, ‘sleep like a baby’.
The general recommendation for sleep is 8 hours a night. Some people need more and some less, but 7-9 hours is a good place to start. Make the best decision for yourself as to how much sleep you need every night.
2. Wash your hands frequently
Well as we all know how important washing your hands is right! A very important thing is to make sure that we wash our hands as many times as possible. The vital aspect of washing hands regularly is to do it for at least 20 seconds.
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
- Bacteria from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Microbes can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Bacteria from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing, therefore, helps prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
3. Practice Meditation
Meditation has started to grow more and more popular as many people have started to witness the benefits that it has on our body. Meditation helps to reduce stress is one of the most important reasons why people are opting for meditation. Stress is becoming a crucial part of one’s life and who does not want to be stress-free in order to stay healthy?
Meditation improves the immune system, reduces blood pressure and even sharpens the mind, according to research.
Now new research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function.
4. Consume sufficient protein
Protein is vital to build and repair body tissue and fight viral and bacterial infections. Immune system powerhouses such as antibodies and immune system cells rely on protein. Too little protein in the diet may lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, apathy, and poor immunity, and overall weak health and fitness. Choose lean sources of protein such as skinless chicken, lean beef and turkey, beans, and soy. The immune system is literally a system of proteins. Most of them are functional proteins like haemoglobin, which carries oxygen. It’s because of these functional proteins in the immune system that we need ample protein in our diets.
Protein intake is especially important for those who train with weights, because the muscles also need those amino acids to rebuild themselves. People who train should consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. So technically speaking if your body weight is 150 lbs, you should be consuming at least 150 grams of protein so as to stay healthy and fit.
5. Take care of your micronutrients
Let is start with understanding what micronutrients are and then it will be easy to understand how it helps us to take care of our immune system.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, as well as chemicals found in plants called phytonutrients. Everyone needs to consume micronutrients because they have numerous important roles in the functioning of the body and brain, and yet our bodies cannot manufacture most of them.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts tend to pay a lot of attention to the macros in their diets: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. But they often ignore these nutrients needed in smaller amounts. This article will thus throw some light on the significance of micronutrients in our bodies.
Basically, they play a variety of roles in metabolism, immune function, brain and nervous system operations.
6. Taking Omega – 3 fats
Omega−3 fatty acids, also called Omega-3 oils, ω−3 fatty acids or n−3 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) characterized by the presence of a double bond three atoms away from the terminal methyl group in their chemical structure. They are widely distributed in nature, being important constituents of animal lipid metabolism, and they play an important role in the human diet and in human physiology. The three types of omega−3 fatty acids involved in human physiology are α-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant oils, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both commonly found in marine oils.
Where to Get Omega 3s?
When possible, try to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements. Aim to eat non-fried, oily fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids at least two times a week.
- Lake trout
7. Follow the 30/60 rule
Add moderate-intensity exercise to your day with my 30/60 rule: For every 30 minutes you spend sitting, stand up and do at least 60 seconds of physical activity. This can be anything you want: walking, jogging, jumping jacks, callisthenics like push-ups or sit-ups, stretching, etc.
If the activity is only moderately intense, that’s fine; from an immunity standpoint, that’s actually preferable. Doing these intermittent bouts of exercise throughout the day will help keep your immune system strong and fend off infection and disease and stay healthy and fit.
To wrap it up, these are the very important 7 ways in my experience which will help you to build your immune system to improve your health and fitness. Having tried these 7 ways for a period of five years now, I really feel fit and healthy and seldom feel ill or weak in my body and mind (touchwood). These will prove to be the best change that you will witness in your life.