• Best foods for our immune system. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
As the world comes to grips with the Coronavirus pandemic, now is a good time to look at some simple things you can do to make sure your immune system is strong.
By
Emily Nicol

1 Apr 2020 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 1 Apr 2020 - 3:10 PM

It is well documented that your first line of defence against serious illness and disease is a strong immune system. Whilst there are a lot of products that may help strengthen your immunity,  as the name suggests, the immune system is a 'system', and it's complexity is still being worked out by researchers. What studies have shown consistently however, is that the simple actions you take everyday have the most impact in keeping you healthy.

Here are some ways you can look after your wellbeing everyday.

Reduce Stress

Stress is known to suppress the immune system. In times of stress, the human body and nervous system will produce either a fight or flight reaction in response to the stressor. What this looks like for everyone can vary, with rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, inability to focus and anxiety being some of the common reactions. Whilst some stress can be good for dealing with challenges, ongoing stress caused by financial troubles, relationship difficulties and employment uncertainty can take it's toll. There will always be challenges in life, so keeping up with daily activities that make you feel good is a great foundation.  Harvard Health Institute outlines several ways that you can reduce stress.

*Staying connected with family, especially with who you have close and supportive relationships with.

*Get some time in nature. However brief, time out in the fresh air and sunshine is highly beneficial

*Maintain important relationships that add positivity to your life.

*Identify areas of excessive stress. Access help if you need assistance with financial budgeting, relationship counselling and mental health support, job seeking and exercise programs.

*Exercise and deep breathing. Do things that you enjoy and know that you will keep up with. Activities such as dancing, swimming, jogging, boxing, yoga and meditation can be done on your own and easily accessed through online apps at home.

 

Get more sleep

*Skipping sleep reduces the body's ability to fight infection and target inflammation. Lack of sleep can also negatively impact issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

*If you can't get the recommended 7-8 hours, getting in a nap has great benefits.

Laughter

Studies show that having a good laugh can boost the function of the immune system and improve mood and mental outlook, all of which have long term positive effects, keeping you healthy. Watch your favourite comedy show, call that friend who you always have a laugh with and keep up your sense of humour as much as possible, even in trying times. 

Healthy balanced diet

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health suggests following the national guidelines for a balanced diet. 

*Eating healthy, fresh food ideally with 2 fruit and 5  veggies a day is "essential for health and wellness especially as it improves quality of life and reduces the risk of chronic diseases." 

*Reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks and white foods such as bread, pasta and sweets will improve the immune system studies have shown.

*Consider cutting out or reducing alcohol, which suppresses the immune system. 

Quit Smoking

*There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke.

*Smoking  severely impacts on respiratory health and can cause diseases such as heart disease and stroke and other serious conditions. Coping with these complications means the immune system is in overdrive trying to cope with these conditions first and affects the body's ability to fight off other infections such as the cold and flu.

*There are immediate and long-term health benefits as soon as you quit smoking for you and those around you. If you need help quitting here is a great resource.