September 28th, 2021
5 useful ways to boost your immune system this autumn
As we enter the autumn and the weather becomes cooler, coughs and colds start to become more common, despite our best efforts to avoid them. The coronavirus pandemic has made many people more conscious of taking care of their hygiene but sometimes washing your hands regularly isn’t always enough.
According to Public Health England, quoted in the Guardian, the UK should prepare for a “difficult autumn” and a “hard winter” of illness. This is due to our lack of exposure to viruses, since social distancing measures meant that we managed to avoid them in the past few months.
If you want to avoid falling ill, it’s important to be proactive and take steps to strengthen your body’s natural defences. Here are five easy ways to boost your immune system this autumn.
1. Make sure you eat a balanced diet
If you want to ward away illness, one of the most effective ways to do so is by having a healthy and balanced diet.
As you probably know, foods that are rich in vitamins are important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Make sure that you eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds to get all the essential nutrients your body needs to fight off illnesses.
Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil or fish, can also help to boost your immune system. On top of this, probiotic foods, such as yoghurt, contain beneficial bacteria which can help to keep your digestive system healthy, which helps to prevent germs from entering your body.
Ensuring that you get enough vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet can be an easy way of making sure that your immune system is working effectively.
2. Use supplements in moderation
While we’re on the topic of nutrition, it’s important to mention the use of health supplements. While they aren’t a replacement for a balanced diet, using them in moderation can help to boost your immune system if you’re lacking any important vitamins or minerals.
For example, vitamin C enhances the function of your immune cells, making them more effective at warding off disease.
Another important one is vitamin D, which supports the growth of immune cells. The body produces this vitamin through exposure to sunlight, which is why many people can be deficient in it, especially during the autumn and winter months with shorter hours of daylight.
You may also want to consider zinc supplements, as this mineral plays an important role in cell growth and communication. If you don’t have enough, it can impede the healthy functioning of the immune system.
3. Try to reduce your exposure to stress
As you probably know, too much stress can impact your mental wellbeing, but it can also affect your physical health.
Persistently high levels of stress can lower the number of white blood cells in your body. This means that when your immune system encounters germs, it can’t fight them off as effectively.
Another way that stress can affect your immune response is by hindering your body’s ability to digest food. This can mean that you don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, making you more vulnerable to catching coughs and colds.
Reducing the amount of stress in your life is often easier said than done, but it can be a good way to ensure your immune system is in a position to fight off illness when you need it to.
One simple way you can lower your stress levels is with relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation.
Alternatively, you could consider using a mindfulness app to promote healthy thinking. If this interests you, the NHS website offers a variety of different apps to promote relaxation and mental wellbeing.
4. Make sure you get enough sleep
One surprising thing that affects your immune system is how much sleep you get. If you want to be sure that your body can fight off coughs and colds this autumn, you should aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
According to research by the Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep helps your immune system to develop adaptive immunity to fight off illness.
Getting your full seven or eight hours of sleep each night is a good start, but you need to think about the quality of your rest too. If you want to boost the quality of it, here are three simple ways to practice sleep hygiene:
- Avoid using your mobile phone or electronic devices before bed
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption in the evening
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.
5. Exercise regularly
The final way that you can improve the functioning of your immune system is by making sure you get regular exercise. This can boost your cardiovascular health, lowering your blood pressure and controlling your body weight.
These factors help to facilitate a healthy and functioning immune system, allowing immune cells to travel throughout the body more easily to get to where they are needed. Exercising regularly also helps to promote the growth of new immune cells.
According to the NHS, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week if they want to stay healthy. If you want to boost your weekly exercise, but aren’t sure how, read our article to find out how to increase your physical activity easily.