10 Easy Ways To Boost Your Immune System
And stop getting sick even when your child does
Our immune system defends us against diseases on a daily basis. The older we get and the more we mistreat our bodies, and the weaker our immune system becomes.
Although it is quite enticing to believe that there are short cuts to boost our immunity, the reality is less glamorous than we think; we simply can’t walk into a pharmacy and help our body defense system by simply buying one of the well-marketed products standing on the shelves.
So much talks about Vit C to prevent cold and flu; but do we really believe a fizzy and sugarish Vit C supplement can really help our cells to prevent bacteria and virus to enter our bodies? Quite unlikely. It can support our system, but it won’t help us unless we put other changes in place.
The reality is that as mothers we are constantly bombarded by different types of bacteria and viruses; sometimes we can’t even catch a break between one illness and the other, and we go through life feeling miserable, tired, and showcasing massive bags under our eyes.
I have been there, and it took me a while to understand that I chose to be that mother; I took my health for granted for the longest time, and I thought that getting sick was part of being a nurturing, loving mum, as how could I say no to those precious wet kisses?
Until I noticed that during the times when I was feeling strong, and I prioritised my health, I wouldn’t get sniffy, also when the rest of my family did.
And so here comes the question: how can we help our bodies to toughen up and get ready for seasonal changes?
1-Stress reduction and sleep: it should be common sense to sleep at least 8 hours per night and to be able to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Most of the time, it doesn’t happen. Heavy workload, crying baby, wired and tired brain…you name it.
Sleeping is as important as eating well and drinking enough water. Without sleep, we can’t survive, and when we are sleep deprived we are more prone to catch germs and get sick. If your baby doesn’t sleep well, take napping as seriously as you would take a full-time job; if you can’t nap, give resting, meditation and gentle stretching a chance. Your body needs to heal, rebuild itself, while your mind needs to unwind and relax. Make that a priority.
2- Don’t take antibiotics, unless they are SERIOUSLY needed. Antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria, both good and bad. It takes only 1 round of antibiotics to change our bodies dramatically …and it takes years to recover. According to WHO, the overuse of antibiotics has recently led to bacteria that have developed antibiotic resistance by altering their genes after being in contact with antibiotics. So question your doctor next time he prescribes you with “precautionary” rounds of antibiotics.
3- Decrease alcohol and quit smoking: smoking is bad for your health. Full stop. If you have a baby in the house, smoking shouldn’t even be an option.
Drinking weakens your liver and your metabolism altogether. Moreover, it leaks into the breastmilk, which is why you need to plan your drinking sessions accordingly to your breastfeeding routine. If you have a child under the age of 3 months, please avoid drinking altogether, in order to give your baby a chance to have a healthy life.
4- Get some sun. Vitamin D protects us against illness and a range of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Sunlight is the easiest and healthiest way to get sufficient vitamin D, so aim for 10 to 15 minutes a day (without sunscreen), on the face, arms and hands. Bring your bubba at the park or down at the beach, and soak in those warm rays of the sun to strengthen your bones and immunes system.
5- Exercise regularly: this doesn’t mean running a marathon, but keeping active is essential to improve our cardiovascular system and lung function and also to maintain our mental sanity. Push the pram, strap your baby and walk to the newsagency, take a couple of hours for yourself on the weekend and go for a hike. Whatever you chose to do, make sure it’s fun and that leaves you energised.
6- Eat well. The immune system needs good, constant nourishment. Cut down on the foods that work against your body’s optimal health (pre-packaged meals, sodium, sugar, and trans fat loaded aliments), increase your consumption of veggies (rich in different vitamins), fruits (Vit C…remember? The real one filled with antioxidants, antiviral and antibacterial),seeds and nuts (Selenium, zinc, magnesium, you name it)and lean healthy (organic when possible) proteins.
7- Probiotics. Remember that the gut is our second brain? So it goes without saying that it needs to be pampered with a load of living bacteria on a daily basis.
8- Wash your hands often, especially during the cold and flu season. A simple task like washing your hands can drastically reduce your chances of getting infected. Simply wash your hands with warm soapy water while singing “Happy Birthday”, twice. This is the time it takes to kill unwanted germs.
9- Trust the herbs. garlic is rich in vitamins A, C, E and minerals such as selenium, sulfur, and zinc (all vital to immune function). It also protects against infections, colds, and flu, and has anti-bacterial, -fungal and -viral properties. Echinacea increase the activity and number of immune cells such as macrophages and T-cells, making them more efficient in attacking bacteria and viruses such as colds and flu. Thyme kills bacterias and infection, Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and is a natural antioxidant.
Next time you cook, add your herbs and look at the magic unfold.
10- Be social. We are social animals, we weren’t born to be isolated. Isolation can lead to depression, constant sadness and it does affect our immune function. Call up that old friend of yours or check out if there is a mother’s group meeting up where you live. Laughing and sharing life can only benefit your health.
The secret to a stronger immune system?
Be mindful, respect your body clock and eat whole nourishing foods when hungry. And laugh, a lot. Every day.