Having a healthy immune system is a key player in helping you lose weight. It’s the preventative medicine cabinet, doctor and nurse of your body all in one, and when it is not in tip top shape, your body will devote its resources to repairing it, not helping you lose weight.
Adopt these 4 healthy lifestyle behaviours to keep your immune system in check so you can devote your time and energy to working on that bikini body and staying in shape!
1. Get some sleep
There’s a reason you are extra tired or want to sleep more when you are sick: this is when the immune system does a lot of its work and is able to repair the body. Failure to get adequate sleep means the immune system doesn’t have a period of uninterrupted time where it can focus on repair and recovery, as it has to carry out its day to day tasks of maintenance that it performs in your waking hours. Think of it as you trying to study: if you try to study in a busy room, with lots of distractions and your friends all around, you don’t get much done. But if you go to a quiet place, where it’s just you, and you remove all the other distractions, you are much more productive. This productive time for the immune system is when we are sleeping!
Exercise is important in maintaining cardiovascular health, which increases our body’s ability to transport blood and oxygen efficiently. This is important for immune system function so that the body can send the oxygen and blood elements to help fight infection. The other reason exercise is important though, is because it stimulates our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is like the internal detox system, which goes around and helps clean all the waste out of your cells and organs. This system however, does not have a pump like the cardiovascular system, so to move this waste out of the body and out of the cells, it needs to be manually pumped. One of the best ways to do this is exercise! This gets the lymphatic fluid moving, prevents stagnation and buildup of toxins and helps push the waste and debris to where it can be eliminated from the body.
3. Increase your vitamin C
This is the one you are probably most aware of, and it is indeed a very important component of maintaining immune health. Not only is vitamin C a vitamin that is necessary in the functioning of the immune system, but it is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that act in our body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals occur from certain foods, certain biological processes and are even produced when we exercise. They aren’t harmful as long as they are eliminated properly, namely through antioxidants. Problems occur when we consume a lot of free radicals, or lead a lifestyle that causes us to produce a lot of free radicals, and then we do not have the means, via food, or a healthy immune system to fight them. Good sources of vitamin C include coloured peppers, kiwi, oranges and dark green leafy vegetables.
4. Reduce sugar consumption
Sugar suppresses the immune system and sets your body up for an adrenaline response: that is, it acts to engage the sympathetic, or fight or flight system of your body and assumes there is something major that you must have to deal with. This is the same system that is activated when you do have something big to deal with, such as being scared or in danger. When it comes to sugar, this is the high and inevitable crash associated with a dose of the sweet stuff. This constant yo-yo is hard on the immune system and makes it less prepared to deal with events that are serious and do need our adrenaline response. Sugar also however, robs the body of nutrients, as it needs certain nutrients to be metabolized and has no nutrient value itself. These nutrients may be the ones we need for healthy immune function and when they are in short supply, our immune system suffers as a result. Here are 5 ways to reduce your sugar consumption.