Easy lifestyle adjustments you can make to boost immunity

Stephanie Zheng
·Lifestyle Editor
·5-min read

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At the start of this year, we released an article about crystals to usher in the new year and held a vote at the end to see what are some of the deeds readers would like more of in their life. Not surprisingly, people are prioritising their health in the new year.

Since health and wellness is possibly going to be a relevant issue in our lives for a while, it’s beneficial for us to gain more knowledge about how to strengthen our immunity system. We ought to prepare ourselves for the possibilities of deadlier viruses and more extreme weather changes in the future, which can put our immunity under stress. Strengthening our immunity system with some lifestyle adjustment should be a lifelong commitment that we can start now. Here are some tips.

Back view of three female adults doing yoga outdoors at a park.
A healthier lifestyle is a choice.

Practice stress management

According to a Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey done in 2019, a staggering 92 per cent of working Singaporeans report feeling stressed. That’s not good for our cortisol level, which is a stress hormone released by our body to help us deal with stressful situations.

Adopting good stress management techniques such as physical exercise, or more cognitive forms like yoga, meditation or other mindfulness practices can go a long way to help support healthy levels of cortisol and a healthy immune system.

Eat a nutrient-dense diet

Contrary to a lot of fad diets out there which can deprive our bodies of important nutrients, nutrient-dense diets including whole foods and importantly, a variety of types of foods from fruits to meats, are vital in supporting a healthy immune system.

Get quality sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in immune function. Being mindful of your natural circadian rhythm is key to producing a healthy amount of energy. Lack of quantity and quality of sleep can disturb our immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to infection. The quality and quantity of sleep matters and can be supported by practicing good sleep habits such as sleeping in a dark room, avoiding electronics before bed, and going to bed before 11pm.

Natural sleep aids, such as magnesium and melatonin, may also help encourage a healthy sleep cycle.

Use supplements for extra support

Much like how tools make it easier for us to go through our daily lives, supplements too, equip our system better to deal with external stresses. Supplements that can help support a healthy immune response includes echinacea, vitamin D, zinc, probiotics, and vitamin C.

1. Echinacea

Echinacea is a botanical and often is a group name for a few different species of plants. Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea are common forms of these plants. Echinacea has been used worldwide for its ability to support the immune system. Specific active components in the plant are called dichroic acid and echinacoside that help echinacea do its job.

Echinacea fun fact: it may decrease the length of the common cold. Research has also pointed to its positive effect on supporting a healthy inflammatory response. This botanical has been studied to stimulate the innate part of the immune system, resulting in a heightened defence in the body against pathogens.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a key nutrient needed for healthy immune function. It is naturally made in the body through our skin’s contact with UV light. With indoor living and avoiding the sun, popular practices in the modern world, many are deficient in this essential vitamin. Vitamin D plays an important role in breaking down our food to release key nutrients. It can specifically support healthy sugar break down, theoretically supporting a healthy inflammatory response in the body.

Fun fact: our immune cells have some ability to create vitamin D! This key vitamin helps to support healthy innate and adaptive immune function. There are also theories that low vitamin D can lead to increased susceptibility to infections and/or contribute to immune hypersensitivity/reactivity.

3. Zinc

Zinc is a key mineral essential for a healthy immune system. Zinc deficiency and its correlation with immune function was discovered by scientists in the 1960s. Since this discovery, countless research studies exploring zinc’s many benefits have been done. Zinc is like a messenger giving the correct signals to both the innate and adaptive immune system so they can “talk” and function efficiently.

Zinc is also key to creating antibodies. Remember that earlier we spoke about the immune system “making pathogens tastier” by covering them with antibodies. This zinc-dependent process is key for other immune cells to kill infectious invaders like bacteria or viruses.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics have been shown over the years to support a healthy gut, but what does it have to do with immunity? Much of your immune system is in your gut! These helpful bacteria support a healthy innate and adaptive immune response. One of the neat features of probiotics is they may physically block a pathogenic bacteria from binding to your gut. This action may help to avoid infections.

Many probiotics also support a healthy inflammatory response, essentially helping the immune system decide how strong of a response it needs to mount. A healthy inflammatory response is the key to a healthy immune system.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin key for proper innate and adaptive immune function. Vitamin C has a unique function as an antioxidant that can be used to repair the lining of the gut. This may help to ward off pathogens similar to the action of probiotics, preventing the binding of these pathogens to the gut.

Vitamin C can also help cells of the innate immune system create something called reactive oxygen species or ROS. This chemical can be secreted by immune cells and can kill pathogens.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider on queries regarding a medical condition. Any action taken by you in reliance on or in connection with this content is solely at your own risk.

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