By Kristina Maxwell
A virus is a biological agent that gets into the cells of a host and then multiplies. Some people are more susceptible to viruses than others. Typically, very young people, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems (for example, people who have undergone chemotherapy and/or radiation, have used steroids for a prolonged period for various conditions, etc.) are most susceptible to fall ill with a virus. However, viruses can affect even healthy young adults, especially if their bodies are run down or lacking in key nutrients. A strong immune system can help combat the effects of a virus.
The immune system is basically an internal army of cells, systems and structures that help to combat diseases. A healthy immune system will sense a foreign substance and mobilise to rid the body of it. So, what can you do to give your immune system the best fighting chance possible?
The following are a few ways that you can naturally strengthen your immune system:
Decrease stress — Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol directly interferes with the ability of white blood cells (the soldiers of the immune system) to receive signals from the body and reproduce. To keep your stress in check, try getting some exercise, get more sleep and do some meditation or deep breathing.
Take vitamins — Though getting vitamins through natural food sources is always the best way, a multivitamin is a good way to make sure that you are getting appropriate amounts of the vitamins that boost the immune system. The big guns for immune boosting are vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E.
Eat more fruits/vegetables — Vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Spinach and citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. Dark, leafy greens like kale are good for liver function. Mushrooms (though technically fungi) such as turkey tail, shiitake, and tremella are also good for boosting the immune system.
Get outside in the sun — Getting sunshine is the main way that the body produces vitamin D. Low vitamin D has been shown to be a major factor in many respiratory problems. Even spending just 10 to 15 minutes outside daily will ensure appropriate vitamin D production in the body.
To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals, contact a healthcare professional at Align.
Kristina Maxwell is a doctor of physiotherapy at Align, a wellness studio with an integrated approach to physical rehabilitative treatments and preventative care.