Coronavirus panic has led to face masks on the streets, but it you’re worried about colds, flu and other bugs, try these effective methods for boosting immunity!
Every day we inhale one hundred million viruses, according to the Medical Research Council, and the immune system’s job is to keep us safe. There are two main parts: the innate response and the acquired response.
The innate response works out what is friend and foe, then tries to flush out the invader – it’s this that can make us feel feverish or snotty. The acquired response remembers specific invaders and sends the right cells to kill them off.
How do you stop germs spreading?
The HEALTH DEPT. says the best defence against germs is to follow basic hygiene – washing hands with hot soapy water, or using hand sanitiser.
Use a tissue or your sleeve to catch a cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands are not clean.
Does wearing a face mask help?
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, sales of face masks have risen 800%, and it’s likely you’ve seen people wearing them in busy locations, like at malls, train stations or in airports.
But there is no conclusive evidence to suggest they can stop virus particles from entering the mouth and throat. They may stop you self-contaminating by putting your hands in your mouth or nose.
What about supplements?
Many over-the-counter products claim to ‘boost’ your immune system, but there is little evidence to show that they do. If you have a poor diet, it may help to take a daily multi-vitamin, but if you are healthy and eat well – getting lots of fibre, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats – your immune system should have everything it needs to run optimally.
Unfortunately, ‘the immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections. Death rates from diseases like pneumonia and bronchitis are three times higher among elderly people.
Seven easy immune system hacks that could save your life
1. Spice things up Season your food with garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper. These have antioxidant, detoxification and antimicrobial properties.
2. Drink green tea It’s rich in antioxidants called Polyphenols, which are efficient infection fighters.
3. Get enough sleep A good night’s sleep (we’re talking 7-9 hours) can bolster the T cells, which fight infection in the body. One study also showed that just one night of 4 hours’ sleep depleted the body’s natural killer cells by 70%.
4. Reduce stress The brain and the immune system are in constant communication – when we are stressed, the brain produces more cortisol and prepares the body for emergency situations. But while it is doing that, it depresses our immune system. Try relaxation exercises like yoga or meditation. Positive thinking can also go a long way.
6. Fluids, fluids, fluids Staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that might cause illness. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.
7. Essential oils Lemon has powerful antibacterial properties and has been shown to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which fight off infections. Diffuse six drops of lemon oil in a diffuser to help give your immune system a boost.