Did you know that your gut is home to an estimated 70% of your body’s immune cells , and that a healthy gut is vital for the normal development of your immune system ? Did you also know that provided you eat a balanced healthy diet, there are no superfoods you can eat or miracle supplements you can take that will increase the effectiveness of those immune cells? You can’t boost your immune system, as it is precisely that – a system, not a single entity. A healthy immune system is all about balance and harmony, and that doesn’t only apply to your diet. Staying physically and mentally active, exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding stress, and relaxing with family and friends all play a part. The effects of a healthy lifestyle on your immune system are truly fascinating.
Food for a healthy gut
Eating a varied and balanced diet is the best way to provide your immune system with the variety of (micro)nutrients that it needs. That means plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, plus if you are not vegan or vegetarian, a limited amount of healthy protein from sources such as fish, lean meat and eggs. By building variety into your diet, you can be sure to get all the vital nutrients needed to support your body as well as your immune system.
Sleep and the immune system
Sleep is also important. We know we need it. We know we love it. But we can’t always get enough of it. High quality sleep is an important contributor to a healthy immune system. When you learn more about how sleep and the immune system are connected, it’s definitely something to prioritize in your life. During sleep, your immune system releases chemical compounds called cytokines that modulate your body’s response to infection, often in conjunction with so-called antibodies. The production of these compounds increases with infection or inflammation, and during periods of stress, to combat illness. However, if your body is deprived of sleep, production of these protective cytokines may actually decrease. Sleep is therefore an essential element in building up your body’s immune system and making sure it is operating at full capacity when it’s needed.
What can you do to maintain a strong immune system?
Find out more on what you can do to make sure you have a balanced and varied diet, and get inspired by recipes with veggie superstars. To learn more about sleep and the immune system and get tips on how to ensure you get a good night’s sleep from Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, Chief Medical Liaison at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care, read this article.