5 Ways you can help your immune system today.
- Sleep. This is your body’s super power. Sleeping at night is the equivalent of half time during a football match. Except we allow usually around 7-8 hours for this half time break. That is how important it is. During this vital half time, our immune system gets the chance to produce proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are required when we are fighting an infection or when we are under stress. Not enough sleep reduces the production of these guys so when we are hit hit with stress or infection our bodies can be more affects by it. How much should we sleep? 7-8 hours for adults, teenagers need around 9-10 hours and school age kids benefits from 10 hours or more of sleep per night
Chronic stress increases our natural cortisol release ( known as the stress hormone). Excess cortisol can suppress our immune response when it is under attack which can affect your ability to fight or recover from infections.
It’s not the easiest thing to do right now I agree- keep the news off, switch off social media and read. Meditate for a few minutes or more- plug in to websites such as calm.com, www.headspace.com. Cook, bake, write, laugh. Whatever you can to switch your mind off.
From PE with Joe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPXQcCyRFt) to dancing in the kitchen ( or any room you want). Getting moving, keeping active helps us feel better due to a natural endorphin release. This improves our mood, gives us more energy and has been shown to maintain a healthy immune system*
4) Eat your greens ( reds, yellows and oranges too)
Comfort food is a natural reach whilst we are sitting at home waiting for things to improve. But what we eat can affect our gut health, how we feel and our immune system. Whilst some treats are practically prescribed during this time we also have more time time think about meals, what we are eating and also to prepare food. Eating as many different colours of fruits and vegetables is a way to ensure we get a wide variety of nutrients and anti oxidants into our diet. ( and also an idea to entertain the kids for a few minutes… which colours of the rainbow have you eaten today?)
To accompany our variety of vegetables we need sources of healthy protein and wholegrain sources of carbohydrate washed down with lots of water to avoid the brain fuzziness and irritability that comes with even slight dehydration. Fresh food might be harder to come by just now but frozen fruit and veg are great sources of rainbow coloured foods.
5) Get outside.( responsibly)
Time outside in nature has been shown to be beneficial for our immune system- this may be limited at the moment but its important we still take the short breaks outside that we can whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines. This can help us feel better as well as ensuring we get some vitamin D - known as the sunshine vitamin- that is essential for a healthy immune system functioning well .
Keep well, Dr Clara Russell