Stay Healthy Naturally

The pandemic had us all worrying about our health. For the first time in life, we were wondering, "did I do it right all these years?"

At some point in life, we have all heard the old saying "health is wealth". But it is only in 2020 when the Covid pandemic started gripping the world that we started really taking it seriously. For most of us, until then, maintaining health meant going to the doctor when we are sick. But realistically, treating a disease is only damage control. Achieving good health comes with long term practice that can build your immunity, and make your body fight and resist many illnesses.

The difference in immunity and health is exactly what differentiated how Covid affected our bodies - those with lower immunity, bad eating and sedentary lifestyle were at higher risk. At this point, it is important we realise the need to make adjustments to our life every day, to make ourselves better - mind and body. Here are some long-term healthy habits that will go a long way in keeping you healthy and fit:

1. Sleep well
Sleep and immunity are inextricably linked. In fact, a lack of or poor quality of sleep has been related to an increased risk of illness. A study of 164 healthy people found that those who slept less than 6 hours per night were more likely to acquire a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night. When you're unwell, you may need to sleep more to help your immune system combat the condition. Adults should receive at least 7 hours of sleep every night, while teenagers require 8–10 hours and smaller children and newborns require up to 14 hours. If you're having difficulties sleeping, consider restricting your screen usage for an hour before bedtime, since the blue light generated by your phone, TV, and computer might interfere with your circadian rhythm or your body's normal wake-sleep cycle. Sleeping in a fully dark room or wearing a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising frequently are all good sleep hygiene ideas.

2. Food is medicine
Many people think eating is just to satisfy your hunger. They think eating whatever is tasty when you are hungry counts as healthy eating. But get this, you can eat three meals a day, and still fall sick, especially if your meals don't serve your body well. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which aid in the battle against dangerous microorganisms. Antioxidants in these foods aid in the reduction of inflammation by combating unstable chemicals known as free radicals, which may cause inflammation when they build up in high concentrations in the body. Chronic inflammation has been related to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and several malignancies. Meanwhile, the fibre in plant meals supports your gut microbiome, which is your gut's colony of beneficial bacteria. Healthy gut microbiota can boost your immunity and prevent viruses from entering your body through your intestines. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, which may help to shorten the duration of a cold.

Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and salmon, can help your body fight germs by reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation can inhibit your immune system, even though low-level inflammation is a common reaction to stress or injury. Olive oil's anti-inflammatory properties have been related to a lower incidence of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory characteristics may aid your body in fighting dangerous germs and viruses that cause sickness. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and chia seeds, are also anti-inflammatory.

Fermented foods are high in probiotics, which are healthy microorganisms that fill your digestive tract. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto are examples of these foods. According to research, a thriving network of gut bacteria can aid immune cells in distinguishing between normal, healthy cells and hazardous invading species. In a three-month trial of 126 children, those who consumed just 2.4 ounces (70 mL) of fermented milk daily had around 20% fewer paediatric infectious illnesses than those who did not. Probiotic supplements are another alternative if you don't eat fermented foods on a regular basis. Those who supplemented with probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis had a greater immune response and lower levels of the virus in their nasal mucus than a control group in a 28-day trial of 152 patients infected with rhinovirus.

According to new studies, added sugars and processed carbohydrates may have a disproportionate role in overweight and obesity. Sugar restriction can reduce inflammation and promote weight reduction, lowering your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Limiting added sugars is a crucial aspect of an immune-boosting diet since obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease may all damage your immune system. Sugar consumption should be kept to less than 5% of total calories consumed each day. For someone on a 2,000-calorie diet, this is around 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar.

3. Don't forget to exercise
Although vigorous activity for lengthy periods of time might depress your immune system, moderate exercise can strengthen it. According to studies, even a single session of moderate exercise can improve vaccination efficiency in adults with weakened immune systems. Furthermore, moderate exercise on a regular basis may assist your immune cells repair and minimize inflammation. Brisk walking, steady bicycling, running, swimming, and gentle trekking are all examples of moderate exercise. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week for most people.

4. Water is your saviour
Although hydration may not always protect you from germs and viruses, it is crucial to avoid dehydration for your general health. Dehydration can induce headaches and impair your physical performance, attention, temperament, digestion, and heart and renal function, among other things. These issues might make you more vulnerable to sickness. To avoid dehydration, drink enough water each day to make your urine pale yellow. Water is suggested since it is calorie-free, additive-free, and sugar-free. While tea and juice are both hydrating, fruit juice and sweetened tea should be used in moderation due to their high sugar content. You should drink when you're thirsty and stop when you're no longer thirsty as a general rule. If you move vigorously or work outside, you may require extra fluids.

5. Take it easy!
Stress and anxiety relief are essential for immunological health. Long-term stress causes inflammation and immune cell function abnormalities. Long-term psychological stress, in particular, can inhibit the immunological response in youngsters. Meditation, exercise, writing, yoga, and other mindfulness practices are some of the activities that may help you manage your stress. Seeing a qualified counselor or therapist, whether remotely or in person, may also be beneficial.

6. Supplement if you have to
If you hear promises about supplements' potential to cure or prevent Covid, it's simple to resort to them. These claims, however, are unsubstantiated and false.
There is no evidence to support the use of any supplement to prevent or treat the Coronavirus, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA. However, some research suggests that taking the following substances will help your body's overall immune response:

Vitamin C: is a powerful antioxidant. Taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day shortened the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children, according to a study involving over 11,000 participants. However, supplementation did not prevent the cold in the first place.

Vitamin D: is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency can raise your risk of becoming sick, so taking supplements can help. Taking vitamin D when your levels are already enough, however, does not appear to give any further advantages.

Zinc: Supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the common cold by 33% in a study of 575 people with the common cold.