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How to support our immune system

My Magazine 2022/04
4 min
Author: Raffa Ndeti
Not only since the Corona Virus, but people have also taken an interest in what they can do to support their immune systems. Our immune system offers protection against all kinds of infections, allergies, and diseases. 

It looks out for anything harmful that enters our body, picks it up, and fights back. Our immune system works by recognizing the difference between our body's cells and alien cells, allowing it to destroy any that could be potentially harmful.        

An allergen such as pollen, a virus causing a cold, a cut from a fall, our immune system is what's powering our ability to heal and recover.

When our immune system is in perfect condition, we will not even realize that it is working constantly. As soon as there is a problem with our health, we think about boosting our immune system.

 

Can food supplements help to boost my immune system?

For a long time, companies have been offering their food supplement and vitamins and promised that this will strengthens our immune systems. There is a wide range of supplements that can be taken. But can something in a bottle, whether a vitamin formulation or probiotic, really rev up your immune system to help us stay healthy?                                                                   

Michael Starnbach, a professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, came to the following result. "Unfortunately, the reality is that those kinds of products aren't offering you any benefit. There's no evidence that they help in fighting disease."

 

How can we support our immune system?

Clean your hands!

Most important, and we all know! Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections. Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, as germs can easily enter through these body parts.

Photo by Raffa Ndeti

Eat healthily! Eat more plants!

Our immune system requires a healthy balance of real foods. Protein is the building block of immune cells. A diet lacking in protein can seriously hamper your immune function. Antioxidants. Our meals should have colour. As a rule of thumb, the more colourful foods are, the healthier they are! Deep rich colours indicate micronutrients and antioxidants, which your body needs for protection and recovery from illness. Studies have shown that antioxidants improve immune responses. Eat a wide range of fruit and veg to ensure you get all the nutrients your immune system needs. Plant-based foods have essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that you cannot get from other food groups.

 

Maintain a healthy weight!

It has been known for some time that excess body fat, particularly abdominal fat, triggers the production of 'pro-inflammatory' immune cells, which circulate in the blood and can damage our bodies. In addition, other inflammatory immune cells, known as macrophages, are also activated within fat tissue.

 

Get adequate sleep!

Sleeping is one of the best things we can do to support our immune system.  Sleep helps our body fight off illnesses better. The body also performs essential maintenance and repairs while we are sleeping. 

 

Avoid smoking! 

Smoking harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease. Many of the chemical compounds found in cigarette smoke can interfere with the immune system, causing it to work less effectively in the body's fight against disease and infection and giving both the opportunity to progress further than it may have in a body with a healthy immune system.

 

Limit your alcohol intake! 

If you drink every day or almost every day, you might notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don't drink. This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections.

 

Exercise regularly! 

Exercise increases the circulation of our immune cells. Exercise helps our immune system to be able to respond faster and more effectively to potential pathogens. Already three hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week can help support immune health!  

Photo by Raffa Ndeti

Yoga helps lower our stress hormones and calms the nervous system, which compromises our immune system. During the asana, different organs and glands are placed in various anatomical positions that are supplied with fresh blood, gently massaged, relaxed, toned, and stimulated—the increase of oxygen levels in the blood to various organs for optimal function.

 

Photo by Raffa Ndeti

Reduce stress! 

Meditation brings a significant boost to the inner workings of our immune system. Meditation seemed to activate genes associated with the immune system. Study results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest meditation can strengthen proper immune functioning without generating inflammation. This could be particularly useful as an additional, non-drug treatment for immune-related conditions. 

Progressive muscle relaxation (a tension–release cycle, combined with a focus on breathing) can improve sleep, improve the quality of life, and reduce stress hormones. 

 

Even small lifestyle and dietary changes can strengthen your immune system and help you on your way to a happy and healthy life! 

These include reducing your sugar intake, staying hydrated, working out regularly, getting adequate sleep, and managing your stress levels.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raffa Ndeti
Yoga and dance instructor
My name is Raffa Ndeti (Raphaela). I am living in the Gambia for over 25 years, and have been working as a teacher for gymnastics and dance in the Gambia. I have been in touch with different kinds of sports since my early childhood. As my parents have been active in Yoga, Martial arts, Dance, and more, they let me train gymnastics, acrobatic, and ballet as soon as it was possible. I always went on with my training. I participated in training courses for different Yoga styles, meditation, pranic healing, nutritional counselling, NLP, and any types of dance and sports. At my yoga studio at Kotu, I offer different kinds of sports and dance for adults and children. To make yoga attractive for all Muslim women, who come to my studio, I have developed a yoga style, that combines different types of yoga without being spiritual. Yearly additional training and workshops in Europe allowed me to constantly expand my repertoire. I am now using my experience to accompany women and children on their way to a happy and healthy life.

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