How to stay healthy

How your immune system changes with age

As you get older, your immune system changes. It may become less able to identify viruses and you'll produce fewer white blood cells which can respond to them. Some scientists suggest that moderate exercise can boost your body's ability to keep your immune system happy. It's also important to get plenty of energy, vitamins and minerals like Zinc from your balanced diet as you get older.

Is your immune system getting enough zzzzzz?

Not getting enough sleep can really affect your immune system. Without sufficient slumber, you’re more likely to pick up a cold, virus or feel run down. So get into good habits. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. 7-8 hours sleep is thought to be ideal. A good sleep routine will help you feel rested and help your immune system stay healthy.

Protect yourself against polluted environments

Your immune system is often affected by your environment. That includes the air you breathe, the places you walk and the water you drink. When your lungs, gut or skin comes into contact with any environmental pollutants, your immune system has to work hard to fight them. It’s hard to avoid everyday pollutants such as traffic emissions or contaminated water which can make your body more susceptible to illnesses. But maintaining a strong immune system can help you to stay on top form.

Three great things about white blood cells

White blood cells are like your immune system’s personal bodyguards whose job is to fight infections.

There are 7,000-25,000 white blood cells in a single drop of your blood.

Ever looked into a light and seen squiggly dots moving across your eyes? Those are your blood cells travelling in the capillaries in front of your eyes retina.

Travel can mean trouble for your immune system

When you travel abroad your immune system is faced with new bacteria and viruses. To avoid getting sick try taking pre and probiotics. Most of your immune system is located in your gut - so boosting its good bacteria means bad bacteria can't take hold. It’s also good to ensure your immune system gets all the micronutrients it needs to function properly. And it’s never a bad idea to pack a bottle of hand sanitiser to help keep things germ-free.

Allergy or false alarm?

Allergies can be exasperating, but most are caused by your immune system reacting to ‘false alarms’. Things like dust and common pollen are usually quite harmless, but if you’re allergic to them your immune system will react dramatically. Your antibodies will attack – which is why you may get a runny nose, watery eyes or other irksome symptoms.

Why your immune system wants you to be happy

Did you know the more optimistic you feel, the stronger your immune system is likely to be? So try maintaining close personal relationships to help reduce any negative emotions and stress. Listening to music in a relaxed state can increase your wellbeing – and having a massage can decrease anxiety, helping your immune system at the same time.

Staying healthy all year round

According to a recent University of Cambridge study, our immune systems are affected by the seasons. It explains why we’re more likely to feel sick in the winter. A few days of winter sun could help you feel better, though experts also recommend exercise, a good diet and keeping warm to help your immune system fight winter ailments.

Four easy ways to stop colds spreading in your family
  1. Wash your hands – a lot of infectious diseases are spread by touch. Germs get on your hands then into your eyes and mouth.
  2. Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then throw it in the bin. That way cold germs won’t get on your hands and spread.
  3. Disinfect things you touch – like remote controls, toys, doorknobs or tables. Germs can live there for hours.
  4. Don’t share towels or cups when someone in your home is feeling ill. 
Three easy ways to be good to your gut

Our gut flora is the key to a healthy immune system. To keep it happy and harmonious you could:

  1. Clean up your diet by cutting out processed foods and eating more of your favorite fruit and veg.
  2. Try onions, leeks, celery, artichokes, beans and asparagus. They contain plant fibres that can feed the friendly bacteria in your gut.
  3. Take a probiotic to help your immune system during stressful times and after taking antibiotics.
Three immunity-boosting power foods

Add these foods to your diet to help your immune system stay strong.

  1. Garlic is really easy to add to your meals and can help your immune system combat colds and other common ailments.
  2. Yoghurt can offer good bacteria called probiotics that keep your digestive and immune systems in good health.
  3. Mushrooms can boost the production and activity of white blood cells which help your body beat infections.