Have you ever known people who never appear to get sick? Everybody around them can come down with a “bug”, “cold” or “flu”, yet these people seem to be impervious to infection? Here are some ways how your children (and you) can improve their constitution and lower their risk of contracting infections and disease.
Like our cells, our body, our immune system also requires oxygen and nutrients to function. Regular exercise improves blood circulation, providing essential nourishment for our immune cells. Exercise also reduces stress, a major cause of a weakened immune system.
An important point to remember is that moderation is the key. Too much exercise can over stress the body, and as with mental or emotional forms of stress, too much physical stress can actually be bad for the immune system. Especially when pushed to its limits, the body is using up energy and nutrients that it may otherwise use in maintaining other body systems, including the immune system. Research has shown that professional athletes and those who train intensively have a weakened immunity, while moderate exercise on a regular basis can improve the performance and efficiency of the immune system, leading to better detection and destruction of invading microbes.
Minimize stress and learn to relax
When we are under stress (emotional or physical), our bodies respond by releasing cortisol and adrenaline, which can depress the activity of immune cells. Not surprisingly, we are more likely to become sick during times of stress or immediately after, when the level of stress dissipates.
Learning how to relax assists in coping with stress. Many of the relaxation techniques are fairly simple to do, and will go a long way if practiced regularly. Some common techniques include:
• Listening to favourite music
• And as mentioned, moderate exercise
Maintain a positive outlook
In many ways, our immune system (and the rest of our body) is heavily influenced by our emotions and thoughts. Research has shown that people who are optimistic develop better immunity in response to vaccines, and are more likely to live longer, happier and healthier than people who are negative and moody. That said, it can be difficult to change a person’s personality if they are pessimistic by nature. But you could begin by reaching out to those around you, your spouse, your children, other family, and friends, and share your thoughts with them. Some people keep a journal or a diary as an outlet for any emotions that are too personal to share. You can encourage your child to do this. Finally, encourage laughter. Laughter not only boosts immune function at the molecular level, it also improves blood circulation, helps with digestion, and reduces muscle tension.
Having a good night’s sleep is a sure way to kick-start your day, but how does this help our immunity?
The brain produces a chemical called melatonin, which controls immunity, reducing the risk of viral and bacterial infections. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant. You could promote melatonin production (and a good night’s sleep!) by making sure that the bedroom is as dark as possible, because light (even very dim light) detected by your retina is known to switch off melatonin production.
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