The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us all up to speed with a lot of things—for those of us keeping up with the news, and the constant developments, it has been a bit of a crash-course in immunology. While we haven't all become overnight experts in the production and transmission of viruses, we do know one thing for sure: we need strong immune systems.
Our immune systems are everything. They keep us safe from innumerable threats to our health and wellbeing daily. Of course, not everyone’s immune system is the same—and for some, who are immunocompromised, this natural defence system needs all the help it can get.
It’s a good idea for everyone to exercise and eat well—that's a given. But in doing so, we help boost our immune system, through better mental and physical health. And when we feel better—and are less likely to suffer illnesses—we can achieve more in life, both at work and home.
- Walking! Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, and you don’t need to tire yourself out completely in order to feel the benefits. Simply getting up and going for a 30-minute walk is good—an hour is even better. You don’t need to make it an epic hike—though if you’re near some beautiful, rolling hills, that’s the best kind of place for a long walk—just walking around the block with a podcast in your ears is perfect.
- Yoga. The perfect yoga class exists for everyone, from absolute beginners to seasoned stretchers. There are countless free courses and classes online—just have a look on YouTube and see.
- High impact intensity training—this isn’t for everyone, but if you already have a decent level of fitness, it’ll get your body’s guardians—the immune system—ready to rumble. In HIIT. You perform an exercise as hard as you can for a set, short time. This explosive method of exercise dramatically increases the heart rate, and causes an ‘afterburn’ effect, where the body continues to work hard for hours afterward.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are of the utmost importance. They’re packed with vitamins and nutrients that increase the functions of the brain. Two-thirds of people without mental health issues say they eat the recommended amount—or more—of fruit and vegetables daily. Of course, it’s important to make sure they’re fresh—crisps don’t count.
- Replace processed white bread with wholemeal, granary and rye. These have much higher nutritional values—it’s best to get these from a baker, rather than buying batch-processed loaves from a supermarket. A good local bakery will use much less in the way of additives and improvers—if they use them at all—and will be fresher.
- Increase your intake of nuts and seeds. Not only are these a much better snack than a chocolate bar or bag of sweets, they packed with fats which release energy slowly throughout the day. No more slumps or sugar crashes, which are enough to bring anyone’s mood down.
- Try more fish. Fresh fish is full of omega-3 oils and fatty acids, which are essential for good brain health. Salmon, mackerel and herring are great for this, and they’re delicious, too. Helpfully, these oils and fatty acids also maintain good heart health.
- Eat regularly! Skipping breakfast messes with your body’s regulatory systems, and is proven to cause low mood and irritability. Simply hammering down a triple espresso might make you feel more alert, but it’s an empire built on sand—sooner or later (probably sooner) you’re going to crash. Have a good breakfast, and snack during the day.
By following these tips, you’re setting yourself up for a much better time with your immune system, your physical health, and your mental wellbeing.