Surprise, surprise, illnesses other than Covid-19 still exist. As the nights begin to draw in and temperatures from balmy summer begin to drop, we can all start to expect the dreaded Flu Season. No, nobody told Flu about the stay at home order, and it’s now out and about looking for ways to cause havoc.
Worry not: There are ways you can protect yourself from getting sick, so you can keep on top of your fitness and work game. In order to understand how you can keep yourself safe, it is the first time for a quick science lesson.
How the Immune System works
Our bodies are full of various defenses against pathogens and antigens. These include physical external barriers, as well as internal systems and microbes. Your white blood cells act as your body’s sentries: patrolling your bloodstream for any malicious invaders, and springing into action when they are needed.
The white blood cells work by producing antibodies which are specifically matched to certain types of antigens, which means that in order to keep on top of mutating viruses and infections, your immune system has to be exposed to the germ to learn what antibodies need to be produced.
This is how vaccines work. They give your body a tiny amount of the pathogen: just enough for your white blood cells to learn the antibodies, but not enough to make you unwell. This means that if you become exposed to larger amounts of the antigen, your immune system will be able to fight it off quickly and before you become sick.
Can the immune system be improved?
You will likely read often about “immune-boosting superfoods” and tips and tricks to maximize your immunity and avoid getting sick. However, your immune system should not be viewed as a superpower, but rather an essential building block to your general health, life and performance. Rather than looking for ways to “power up”, you should be consistently working on maintaining it, so that you can continue at peak performance.
The most important and the best thing you can do for your immune system, and therefore health, is ensuring that you are eating enough fruit and vegetables. This will ensure that you are nourishing yourself with the right kinds of vitamins to keep your immune system working well.
Eating a diverse range of fruit and veg, as well as fermented food (like kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut) can help with gut flora, which assists with digestion and the functioning of your immune system.
Moreover, protein is a necessary component of your immunity. Without it, your immunity simply will not function.
Raising your heart rate regularly will keep your blood flowing efficiently. With your bloodstream housing your white blood cells, it is very important to keep things moving, so that you can neutralize any potential threats.
There is also evidence suggesting that stress can harm the immune system. Exercise reduces stress, so it follows that regular exercise is the road to both a stress-free life and a stronger immune system. So, get your workouts in, avoid the flu.
There has been scientific research to suggest that Vitamin C and Vitamin D reduce the rate at which people catch the flu. They assist the body with adapting its immune response to any attackers.
Taking daily multivitamins as well as maintaining your healthy diet and daily exercise can help to keep you in tip-top shape throughout these scary covid-19 and flu season times.
Forming healthy habits and ensuring that you are on top of these things are the building blocks to staying healthy and avoiding sickness.