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Health 7 August 2020
By: Natasha Tanga

7 Healthy Habits to Support Strong Immunity

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Keeping a strong and well-working immune system is always a priority, especially during this pandemic. Even though there are no quick fixes to achieve better health, there are certainly ways to incorporate good habits into your lifestyle in order to keep your immunity in check. On this week's journal, we round up some of the simple steps you can take to be protected from illnesses, as well as maintaining your health in the long run. Read on!

1. Watch your dietary habits

Having three meals a day is a norm, but some people tend to skip the first meal of the day due to time constraint of having to commute to office, or simply doing intermittent fasting. Skipping breakfast can significantly impact your energy levels and may increase risks of hypertension and cardiometabolic problems, as well as lowering your immunity, according to some studies.

Also, it's important to remember to not starve yourself. Snacking in-between meals is also recommended as long as you keep portion control and choose the right snacks, like fruits, nuts, and yogurt. Evidence shows that it can even help control blood sugar and curb your appetite. 

2. Consume enough protein

Protein is needed by our body to replenish cells, skin, build and maintain muscle mass, as well as preventing infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Research have shown that protein deficiency may compromise immunity, as essential nutrients needed to defend your body is often met when you consume protein routinely. Antibodies, which play a crucial role in defending the body against invaders are also made from amino acids in protein. Therefore, consume protein rich foods, like red meat, poultry, fish, various nuts and seeds to support your immunity. 

3. Regulate vitamin and mineral intake

Deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals also plays a role in suppressing immunity. In order to have a well-functioning, healthy body, consuming a wide array of quality foods can help defend you from being infected with illnesses. Some of the crucial vitamins include vitamin A, C, and E. Vitamin A helps regulate immunity by developing white blood cells to fight off infections more effectively, vitamin C protects the body from the effects of free radicals and improves the absorption of iron from foods you consume. While vitamin E acts as antioxidant and protecting cells from free radicals and helps prevent the formation of blood clots.

4. Limit or abstain from alcohol consumption

While a limited amount of alcohol is acceptable for most people, it is even better to abstain from it when you are trying to build up immunity. A number of researches have shown that excessive alcohol consumption has adverse effects to the immune system, including affecting dendritic cells which plays a crucial role in destroying foreign invaders. Therefore, alcohol consumption may go hand-in-hand with increased vulnerability to viral and bacterial infections.

5. Drink enough water

The hot and humid Indonesian weather often requires us to frequently hydrate in order not to get dehydrated. Aside from ensuring a well-running mind and body, sufficient hydration is also supplementary to strong immune function. Well-known benefits of hydration includes a more frequent oxygen circulation inside the body and easier removal of toxins.

6. Manage stress

This point is easier said than done. However, it is important to remember to manage stress well in order to maintain strong immunity. When stressed, the body produces hormone called cortisol, which actually activates the immune system and gives the body protection from unwanted virus or bacteria. However, if this happens often (chronic stress), the body can be resistant to this trigger, making cortisol no longer activates your immunity shield and leave you more susceptible to illnesses.

7. Do regular exercise

Finally, regular exercise surely have its benefits to aid immunity, as long as it is being done in moderation. Research have shown that immune system may be lowered in cases of excessive exercise. Get moving for at least 30 minutes a day should suffice, as exercise boosts metabolism and ease circulation inside the body, including circulation of antibodies and white blood cells. Moreover, frequent exercise is also able to keep your stress levels low. Bonus points if you exercise outdoors, as exposure to sunlight can increase your vitamin D intake can help boost immune response and lowers your chances of getting ill.

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