We have just changed the season and whether you are in the spring or fall, you need to get your immune system in shape to avoid some unexpected colds. At Sunstar, we truly believe in the healing power of our own body. Sometimes we only need to unlock our body’s innate capacity to protect us rather than boycotting the protection our immune system offers. Indeed, our immune system acts as a vast filter against external threats, such as viruses, microbes, and other pathogens. We can also see it now with the COVID-19 crisis; conditions such as diabetes, obesity, respiratory or cardiac diseases – which debilitates their immune system – increase the risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.
But, how to boost your immune system, then? It is simple and at the same time quite complicated. The cornerstones are: eating well, sleeping well, and avoiding stress and bad habits (such as smoking and alcohol).
Eat well. Arguably the most important one. Indeed, the majority of our immune cells reside in the gut (2).
The gut is such an important system of organs that scientists sometimes call it “your second brain”, as it has a major impact on the rest of the body. The billions of bacteria residing there are called the gut microbiota. There is evidence that the microbiota promotes serotonin (hormones of happiness) production, which, in turn, can also influence the immune system functioning (3).
So how to support the gut microbiota? We suggest enriching your diet with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and mushrooms, and other nutrients rich in fiber. Have a look at the article we wrote about the food that helps you lower the inflammation in your body. Also, follow this month’s healthy challenge on Sunstar’s social media to reduce the sugar in our diet.
Next factor which influences our immune system is stress. In small quantities stress can be a good thing for our health, preventing us about dangers. However, if it lasts for a long time, stress is increasingly reported to be associated with immunosuppression (4). This year is particularly challenging for our mental health so remember to take care of yourself, taking things slowly and giving yourself time to rest.
Finally, a fundamental factor that impacts our immunity is sleep. Indeed, numerous studies demonstrated that good quality sleep promotes your immune system, and poor sleep can detriment your oral health. Recently, German research found that good quality sleep improves the functioning of immune cells known as T cells responsible for fighting infectious diseases (5). Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
How much sleep do you need to boost and maintain your immune system in a good shape? It is very personal, but in general, an adult needs around 7-8 hours, and teenagers and kids around 10 hours of good quality sleep.
Remember to take extra care of you during the change of season.
- Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical & Experimental Immunology. 2008 Sep;153:3-6.
- Ridaura V, Belkaid Y. Gut microbiota: the link to your second brain. Cell. 2015 Apr 9;161(2):193-4.
- Khansari DN, Murgo AJ, Faith RE. Effects of stress on the immune system. Immunology today. 1990 Jan 1;11:170-5.
- Benedict C, Dimitrov S, Marshall L, Born J. Sleep enhances serum interleukin-7 concentrations in humans. Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2007 Nov 1;21(8):1058-62.