Immunity is the buzzword in the health sector in Singapore and beyond, with recent reports indicating that Peru is targeting Singapore, with plans to increase the export of superfoods by 25%. While diet is no doubt a key pillar of immunity, there are many other approaches that can help you increase your resilience to infections and disease. Below are just a few strategies reviewed and approved of in recent studies.
A recent (March, 2020) analysis by researchers at the University of Bath has found that regular, daily exercise has a powerful effect on immunity. Researchers stated that even if many people are currently working remotely or spending more time at home, it is important to stay active. In the study, researchers recommended moderate intensity activities such as walking, cycling or running. The aim should be to complete at least 150 minutes per week. In addition to aerobic exercises, resistance exercises should be completed, since they help maintain and grow muscle mass.
Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine has shown that sleep can indeed be the best medicine. Researchers found that quality sleep enables the body’s immune cells to attach to their targets, helping people to fight off infections. These cells (T-cells) are a type of white blood cell that activates sticky proteins so they can attach to a cell infected with a virus. When people are sleep deprived, their T-cells lose their ability to activate the required proteins and attach to target cells. The researchers stated that highlighting good sleep is important at a time in which conditions such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work, can all interfere with our ability to get a good night’s rest.
Embracing A Mediterranean-Style Diet
Many studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet (which embraces lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil) is vital for heart health, but studies indicate that this regimen also boosts the immune system. One of the secrets of the Mediterranean diet is its high fiber quotient. University of Illinois researchers have found that the soluble fiber found in foods such as nuts and fruits dramatically reduces inflammation in cells, turning them into ‘healing cells’ that aid in the fight against infection and aging. In addition to eating a healthy diet, you should also aim to enjoy your meals at the same time every day, since the gut has a memory, and it increases its protective mechanisms at specific times of the day in order to respond to incoming harmful bacteria.
Battling Stress Actively And Regularly
In addition to exercising, it is important to fight stress proactively through a variety of approaches, which can include yoga, Tai Chi, and time spent in nature. As found in research published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, stress changes the balance of gut bacteria and deregulates the immune response. These bacteria affect the way the immune system works, and they are affected by stress, changing their composition, diversity and proliferation when the body is subjected to the high levels of (stress hormone) cortisol. Having a healthy gut microbiome is important, warn researchers, to prevent diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and other conditions. Having low levels of some gut bacteria, for instance, has been linked to depression.
Boosting your immune system is a challenge that can be approached through a multifaceted strategy. Key steps to take include consuming a healthy, high-fiber diet; staying active; making good sleep a priority; and adopting stress-busting activities. Even if you have just 10 free minutes a day, head to a green area. Being out in nature has been found to reduce stress levels significantly, so aim to experience the wonders of the great outdoors on a regular basis.