How To Naturally Improve Your Immune System Without Relying On Supplements.
Since the inception of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen more than 14,000,000 number of people contracting the virus and more than 609,000 dying globally, most people have found themselves trying to naturally improve their immune system.
However, most are either doing so by copying what they are seeing other people around them do or from forwarded posts that they read on social media. But, there comes other heath dangers that may arise from taking excess supplements or one source of Vitamin without giving your body other requirements for it to function properly and have a good immune system.
Betty Okere, a nutritionist and medical educator with bias in diabetes and endocrine disorders, advises on how and why one should work on improving their immunity as opposed to ‘boosting’ it, which is what most people are trying to do.
While COVID-19 has claimed the lives of so many, majority of them being people who had underlying health issues like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, hypertension and other issues, there are people who do not have these underlying issues but have weak immunity brought about by either their sedentary lifestyle and or eating unhealthy food.
The immunity system refers to a system network of cells that help one’s body to have the ability to fight infections. These infections can be caused by anything, from a virus to bacteria.
Anytime a foreign element invades the normal system of one’s body and attacks the normal cells and prevents them from functioning well, the body will respond and now with Coronavirus, most people are thinking that when they inhale something, it will likely immediately affect their chest and hence their immune system will likely be weak forgetting that any sickness can actually weaken the immune system. However, a weaker immune system can result to fatal consequences like death.
So what causes a weak immune system?
Some diseases can suppress your immune system; these include diseases like HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes which in this case, raises the sugar level in the body making it hard for the body to fight any infection because some of these infections are caused by pathogens which depend on sugar for growth, so it’s like feeding them perpetually.
Some activities such as excessive consumption of alcohol or smoking may also contribute to a weaker immune system. They not only destroy the immune system but other organs in the body. For instance, someone who consumes alcohol is likely to have frequent throat infections.
Stress levels also contribute to a weak immune system making the body prone to infections and most people who are perpetually tired or stressed tend to be prone to flu or keep getting sick.
‘’People who are also not active can have a weak immune system because this leads to other health issues like obesity and being overweight which primarily renders one’s immune system to be unable to work optimally. Then there also people who are born with a weak immune system, they call it primary immune deficiency and you can do nothing about it. ‘’ Explains Betty Okere.
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Allergies also lower the body’s immune system. You will know your body is responding to some foreign element in the body, by how it reacts to the changes. Sometimes, people may be in the same environment but you are the only one being affected because of how your body fights against foreign elements that may have entered the body.
This can tell you if you have a weaker or a strong immune system. And so how can one improve their immune system?
Natural immune boost or supplements?
Ideally, everything that one eats contains the nutrients in forms and manner that get to help the body function normally.
You can improve your immunity by ensuring that you have a balanced diet. This will include little amounts of macro and micro nutrients.
The macro nutrients is what your body requires in large amounts and what your body needs to be able to work like the proteins which may be either plants and animals proteins, carbohydrates and fats which provide the body with energy in higher calories and is also used like a back up when one does not have glucose in sufficient.
Fats in the body also have another function which helps to bind with some trace elements, minerals and vitamins which then require it as a transporter. For instance, in Vitamin A, D, E and K, if one does not have fats available, even if the food they ate was rich in those vitamins, they may not be able to utilize either of the vitamins because they lack what would carry them to the necessary cells.
The micronutrients are also important albeit required in little amounts but missing them would result to a problem. For example, the body does not need large amounts of Vitamin D, but if one is deficient of it, they will not even be able to absorb calcium and this may result to weak and brittle bones which could result to arthritis, and bones breaking every now and then or loss of teeth. Others include iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc.
‘’For example, we should ensure that we have a constant supply of Vitamin C which is the number source of immunity builder and this will come from the citrus fruits, anything orangeish, yellowish, reddish in that line, like the oranges, tangerine, berries, pepper, grapefruits and also pilipili unless you have acidity issues. ‘’ Adds Betty Okere.
When you have a low Vitamin C, you are likely to get a cold and flu more frequently than somebody who has sufficient Vitamin C.
However, this does not mean that when you have a low immunity, you get an overdose of Vitamin C. If you know that you cannot get sufficient Vitamin C from your diet, the other alternative would be to take only one tablet of a supplement.
There are people who are also taking the supplements the wrong way as explained by the nutritionist, ‘’Some people now think that for them to ‘boost’ their immune system, they will take more tablets and so rather than taking one tablet which is 1000mg, they will take three tablets which will be 3000mg.This will probably lead to diarrhoea or loose stool or a disturbed gastrointestinal tract. This is because you will not keep and have an extra storage for Vitamin C because you took a lot.’’
When it comes to Vitamin D which helps the body to deal and ensure that one’s immunity better fight foreign objects and keep away infections, there are people who due to Coronavirus are now taking mega doses of Vitamin D and taking them all at once.
Betty Okere notes, ‘’I have seen people who say that they will go to a pharmacy and get 50,000 international units of Vitamin D at 0nce. Unless you have a deficiency, I would actually advise people to go lower than that. Just about 600 is good enough for young people and if you are above 70 years, you will probably want 800, and not anything more than 1000.’’
Then there are people who are taking garlic in their natural form or tablet form but it is important to know the consequences that come from over consumption of the supplements. If possible incorporate them in your food as opposed to buying the supplements.
The whole world may be forced to learn how to live with COVID-19 and that should prompt the public to keep in mind the other health issues that may arise from the over consumption of supplements.
‘’Sometimes you will find someone with three bottles, one is iron, the other is Vitamin D and calcium and the other is a multivitamin supplement. Now what they forget is that what you find in the multivitamin supplement is the same thing you will find in the other bottles so you end up with excess dose unknowingly.’’ Notes Betty Okere.
It is also important to remember not to overcook the vegetables, exercise a lot, get enough sleep and drink a lot of water. This will help improve the immune system.
In case you are using honey try to consume the recommend amount as too much of it will also lead to high sugar consumption.
While there are many people who are now obsessed with drinking ginger-lemon warm water, most of them, as Betty Okere notes are doing it the wrong way. She says, ‘’There are a lot of people who are now taking the ginger-lime/lemon water but then end up using a lot of honey which beats the purpose. Ask yourself what your end goal is and how much carbohydrates you would want to consume in a day. You can either use a teaspoon of honey which is 5g or a table spoon of honey which is like 30g and then ask yourself if you would want to get all that grams from honey or from the other things you are yet to eat.’’
Everything should be taken in moderation, whether it’s the supplements or ginger lemon water, this will prevent other health cases arising post Coronavirus.
While these may be the natural ways one can use to improve their immune system, it is also necessary to remember to practise hygiene and wash the hands every time with clean water or use the recommended sanitizers.
Always remember to wear your mask especially when in public and keep your distance. Practising these measures set aside will prevent one from contracting COVID-19 and with one taking the initiative to work on improving their immune system, they will have a better chance at fighting any infection or disease that may affect them because they have a stronger immune system.
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