2. Just say no to sugar
Sugar has absolutely no nutritional value and yet it is included in almost every food product available. It is not only found in the majority of store-bought products, but it is included in these in startlingly large amounts. The reason for this is simply taste. Companies pump their products with sugar and MSG to enhance the taste and therefore increase their consumer base. According to the American Heart Association, women should only consume a maximum of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day while men can eat 9 teaspoons.
In 2008 the average American consumed 19 teaspoons of sugar a day. This is more than three times the recommended amount for women. Sugar has no nutritional value and yet it is loaded with calories. This makes it an empty calorie food, just like alcohol. Obviously, this makes sugar a major contributor to obesity which is a growing problem worldwide. This is not where the detrimental effects of sugar end.
White blood cells are a person’s immunity. Granted, there are other factors at play, but it is these cells which inevitably wind up fighting off infections and diseases. These cells require Vitamin C to function correctly and perform their vital role. This vitamin must compete with sugar for a spot in white blood cells. This means that an abundance of sugar in one’s blood does not only influence weight and increases the risk of diabetes, but it impairs white blood cells ability to fight off infections.
The solution to this is simple, cut out sugar. For starters, it may be sufficient to cut down on sugar intake, but the end goal should be to cut it out from one’s diet entirely. This means that product labels need to be read. Sugar is an additive in the most unlikely products and vigilance is necessary if one wants to avoid it.
3. Try walk at least every day
Health and fitness experts always carry on about how important exercise is for one’s health. Even medical doctors agree on this point. Them punting exercise is not just another sales ploy, it really is necessary. Modern life is arguably easier than it was a few hundred years ago, but that does not mean we are healthier. Yes, mortality rates are lower (especially in first world countries) but we do live in an indulgent society.
People these days eat far more than they ought to. Couple that with a sedentary lifestyle and you get rampant ailments like diabetes and obesity. Commercially accepted fixes for these tend to be medication or crash course dieting. A more natural way is simply healthy and conscious eating along with regular exercise. This does not mean that one must live off carrots and slog away at the gym for hours on end. A daily walk is sufficient.
Walking is a low-intensity cardiovascular exercise. It gets the heart pumping, blood flowing and increases the respiration rate. This kind of movement in the body, aids in the circulation of immune cells and anti-inflammatory factors. Walking has also been shown to relax and destress a person, after a long, hard day.
It is recommended to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. This can be split into two 15-minute walks, one in the morning and another in the evening. The location is said walks is not all that important, but the relaxation effects are increased if these walks are taken in a natural setting. Walking can even become a family activity, as it is an activity which is easy enough for all ages to participate in.
This may seem like one of the more ‘out there’ ideas, but the western conception of meditation is quite limited. Meditation is not necessarily only a spiritual practice which is reserved for only the highly enlightened beings. It is only a ritualistic practice which involves awkward leg positioning and mind-numbing omming. Meditation can also be a relaxation technique. A technique which focuses and centers one’s mind. There are certainly spiritual uses for meditation and it has been practiced for centuries in the attempt to gain enlightenment, but this should not ward off the general populous.
As the number of people turning to alternative medicine increases, increasingly more studies are being done on the benefits of meditation. It has been shown to increase both immune and brain function. It does this by increases the volume in some regions of the brain and it has been known to affect cell-mediated immunity and inflammation.
These are some of the physiological effects of meditation, there are also mental ones. Meditation is a technique which focuses and calms the mind. This reduces stress and smooths the brain waves. In doing this, stress is reduced and one’s mood is lifted. Both of which are essential for immune system function.
Meditation can be taught, but it also can be learned in the comfort of one’s home. All a person needs is a quiet and peaceful place where they can close their eyes and breath. If this seems like a daunting task, then there are options like transcendental meditation. This type of meditation is an ancient technique used by monks the world around and it does not have any spiritual implications. It is simply a technique, and it is one that can be taught in a few sessions. Whichever the chosen method is, one should aim to meditate for about 15 minutes daily.
5. Make sure that you are drinking enough water
Water makes up 60% of a human’s body weight. This liquid even covers 71% of the Earths surface. It is completely essential to life. There are scores of scientists around the world who are actively searching for water sources on other planets, as the existence of water would make said planet an option for human habitation. Clearly, we cannot survive without water. It cannot osmosis through our skin though, we must drink it or eat it. The point is, it needs to enter our mouth in some shape or form throughout the day.
The recommended guidelines for daily water consumption are 2 liters a day. This changes with the size and relative physical activity of a person, but it should never be less than 2 liters. This is the amount of water needed for the body to function correctly.
Water hydrates and nourishes us. When a person wakes up in the morning, their urine is generally a yellowish color. This is because the water circulating, in various forms, through the body is flushing out toxins and waste. It also aids in digestive regularity, thus ensuring the uptake of nutrients. Hydration and adequate nutrition are both vital for the functioning of the immune system.
Water can be consumed in various forms, this includes eating and drinking. While these can act as supplemental water sources, they should never replace plain water entirely. A person should be drinking 8 glasses of pure and filtered water each day. Some countries are lucky enough to have safe drinking water in their taps and if you are fortunate enough to live in one of these, this option should be taken. Bottled water is not only wildly overpriced, but it is also contributing to the amount of global plastic waste.
6. Have a smoothie for breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper. These are just a few of the catch lines or phrases which circulate in the conversation pool once in a while. Is there really any truth in this or is it a complete fallacy?
Assuming a person sleeps for 8 hours a night. That is a whole 8 hours that the body is left to digest the last meal that you ate. By the time a person wakes up in the morning they are in much need of some sustenance. This is where the term breakfast comes in. It is the meal where a person breaks their fast. In the early hours of the morning, blood sugar levels are relatively low. By eating breakfast, a person boosts these levels and thus ensures that the brain and body have the ingredients required for proper functioning.
In the morning, you are looking for a healthy boost in blood glucose levels, not an unnatural spike. A sweet treat for breakfast is most certainly not what the doctor- or the body for that matter- orders. For some people, mornings are quite a rushed event and a healthy breakfast is simply not an option and is too time-consuming. If this is the case, then why not drink your breakfast?
The sky is the limit when it comes to smoothies. One can pack in a portion of their daily dairy, vegetable, fruit and protein portion, all in this one drink. The only equipment needed is a blender. This drinkable meal will provide your body with many of the vitamin and nutrients needed for energy and immune system function. Instead of hitting the pastries, load up on your favorite fruits and veggies and drink up on the way to work.
7. Practice proper hygiene
Since we were children, our parents have been badgering us with hygiene routines and practices. Most of the time, it was simply a pain. What kid wants to brush their teeth in the morning, or worse still, wash their face and hands? These natural parental duties go unnoticed and unappreciated until children grow up and realize that their parents had it right all along.
Good hygiene is not only essential for aesthetic purposes, it is essential for one’s immune system. Washing your hands leaves them clean and flowery smelling, but it also rids your paws of the germs that you pick up throughout the day. Our hands are our direct link to the world. We shake peoples’ hands, open doors, pick up things, accept things, the list is endless. Each one of these objects we touch has touched at least a thousand other objects by extension. Imagine if all these objects molecularly made their way into your body. The immune system would be under siege.
To halt this attack, it is vital that we wash our hands and body. This is a sure-fire way to decrease the number of foreign objects or species that enter your body. Washing must never be overlooked, but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to proper hygiene.
If your immune system is your primary concern, then there are other hygiene habits which need to be maintained or adopted. Teeth need to be brushed twice a day. You must always cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Nails should not be bitten. Nail clippers should not be shared. Wounds or scabs must not be irritated by scratching. Makeup brushes cannot be used for indefinite periods of time. Cell phones should not be taken into the bathroom.
8. Do not avoid the sun all the time
The Earth is at a perfect distance from the sun. 91 million miles of space is what separates us from that enormous ball of gas. If we were any closer, water would be too warm to sustain life, and if we moved further away from the sun, the climate would be altogether too cold. Our little blue planet exists in a small band called the Goldilocks zone. Without the sun our planet would die and so would we.
Commercial sunblock’s claim to protect the user from harsh UV rays from the sun. This is correct. UV rays in alarming proportions can be dangerous and skin cancer is a very real threat to any person who spends extended periods of time in the sun. So, lather on that SPF 60 cream but do not avoid the sun altogether. Sunlight promotes Vitamin D production in humans.
This vitamin is known to increase the absorption of calcium, which is essential for bone health. There are, however, recent studies which have shown that Vitamin D plays a significant role in immunity. The immune system protects the body from infection, but if it is in overdrive then it starts attacking the body. This condition is called autoimmunity.
A deficiency of Vitamin D has been linked to an increase in the prevalence of this condition and the host appears to be significantly more susceptible to infection. The host here is the human. This is not to say that a person need spend 5 hours in the sun each day. While UV rays have a certain dependency on latitude and the prevailing season, about 15-20 minutes in the sun each day is sufficient to promote vitamin D synthesis.
9. Laugh, a lot!
Laughter is the best medicine. This may sound rather airy-fairy and when you are sick you would probably feel a whole lot better after a few dozen Panados as opposed to a 30-minute laughing session. Laughing may not be a prescribed medicine, but it is a very viable treatment option.
It has already been mentioned that a person who is stressed hyper secretes Cortisol, which can wreak havoc on the immune system. Laughing, on the other hand, has positive effects on the immune system. First and foremost, a good chuckle boosts a person’s mood. It relieves stress and muscle tension and elevates one’s mood. These are all things which strengthen the immune system, therefore amping up the body’s natural defenses to infection. This is a secondary effect of laughing, but there are actual palpable effects of laughing on immunity.
A single dose of laughter can increase the number of circulating antibodies and T cells. This increase has been observed in the blood and mucous which is found in both the nose and the respiratory passages. These areas are relatively open to the outside world. This means that a healthy and thriving mucous should impair the passage of germs into the body.
Participating in laughing therapy or frequenting a comedy night will also aid in digestion, increase circulation and lower a person’s blood pressure. A relaxed and happy bodily environment is the perfect environment for an immune system to thrive in. A person can get their daily dose of laughter by watching a funny movie, spending time with a particularly hilarious work colleague or even just forcing a laugh in the car on the way to work. Forcefully laughing may seem odd at first, but there are studies which have proved that if you force yourself to laugh, your body will respond by actually laughing.
10. Look on the bright side
The law of attraction is quite simple. Think good thoughts and good things will come to you. Self-proclaimed realists would possibly disagree with this. There are people out there who believe life is unfair. That you get dealt a hand by life and you either have nothing to do with it or possibly you are paying for karma you incurred in a different life. Science may attempt to find the answers and declare the right party once and for all, but even science can be subjective.
A wise man once said that if you are looking for a specific result, you probably going to find it. Who then is the average person meant to trust? At the end of the day, one can only look at the facts at hand and try to make as informed a decision as possible. We know that mood can play a very big role in the functioning of one’s immune system. Is it not then a natural progression to think that positive thoughts too can strengthen immunity? They actually can.
Having a positive outlook on life can influence the function of immune producing cells. This is a very real and quantifiable effect of positive thinking. On the other hand, if one were to dwell on bad thoughts, there is that spike in Cortisol levels which we have spoken about.
Positive thinking is also a mood booster. A happy mind is a healthy mind. There are elements to this that rely on the placebo effect. Think you are better and you will feel better. Does it matter though? Whether it is medicine or the power of thought which makes one feel healthier and happier. If the result is still the same, then you might as well opt for the cheaper and less invasive procedure.
11. Alcohol should be a treat and not the norm
You’ve had a long week and cannot wait to pick back on the couch with a glass or maybe even bottle of wine. It is a blazingly hot summer day and you cannot think of anything better than a cold beer next to the pool. How can you not celebrate that new promotion with a glass of champagne or single malt whiskey? These are perfectly acceptable. Getting outrageously drunk a few times a week is not.
Alcohol is a social lubricant. Unlike smoking, there are tons of social drinkers out there. Where then is the line between a social drinker and the ‘my kidneys are failing’ drinker? Alcohol is technically a type of fermented sugar. The process itself is natural and occurs, to some degree, in nature. While it may be natural, it is still toxic. The detrimental effects of alcohol abuse are extensive.
The first target is the liver. The liver is the toxin disposal crew in the body. It takes alcohol and other drugs and literally detoxifies them, as best it can. Over time and with excessive alcohol consumption, these liver cells get damaged, permanently. Other victims of ethanol are the brain, the heart, the lungs, the bones, an unborn fetus, and even the muscles.
There are certain studies which claim that mild smoking and alcohol consumption may actually make the body more robust. The validity of this is unclear, but no one is prohibiting drinking altogether. Drinking must simply be done in moderation. If you are having frequent acne breakouts, back pain near the kidneys, poor memory or even multiple alcohol-induced blackouts then it may be time to slow down. Moderation is key with alcohol.
12. There is literally no upside to smoking or second-hand smoke
Smoking is cool. That is what we are all made to believe at some point or other in our lives and yet it is possibly one of the most dangerous lies around. Smoking is not cool, it is not healthy. In fact, it is downright lethal. Upwards of 16 million American people are currently battling some disease which is directly caused by smoking.
Globally, smoking results in 6 million deaths per year and smokers die at least 10 years earlier than non-smokers. With statistics like these, it is shockingly surprising that so many people still smoke. Who is to blame here? The industry, the education system or is it simply a case of addiction?
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer worldwide. Medical researchers are racing the clock for a cure for cancer, and while they may be getting close, lung cancer is still absolutely devastating. One of the biggest problems with lung cancer is that early detection is incredibly difficult. Many people with lung cancer are wholly asymptomatic and only start displaying symptoms once cancer has metastasized or reached an incurable stage. This is obviously a worse case scenario regarding smoking, and yet it is the leading cancer killer of both women and men. Making it not only a real but prominent concern.
Smoking stains your teeth, harms your gums, ages your skin, increases cataract risk, increases the risk of heart disease, can reduce fertility in men, decreases immune function and impairs respiratory function. Smoking cigarettes impact almost every part of the body. Yes, it is incredibly hard to quit, but consider the facts here. It is clearly the healthiest possible thing anyone could do.
13. Make sure you get enough sleep
I’ll sleep when I’m dead. No, no you will not. Not sleeping may kill you. A person can survive for 3 weeks without food. A notable case of this was Mahatma Gandhi who went 21 days without food. On the other hand, a person can only go 11 days without sleep. Going by only these two values, one could arguably say that sleep may even be more important the food. A human being cannot live without either, so it would be a completely useless argument. The bottom line should just be that everyone needs to be getting enough sleep, and that is it. No ifs ands or buts.
Modern life is busy, and it is very stressful. Scores of people crash-land into bed, exhausted and yet cannot fall asleep due to a raging mind. This not being able to fall asleep should not stop a person from falling asleep. Maybe a person can try meditating for a few minutes or practice breathing techniques or even just drink a glass of warm work. The list of sleep aiding food and activities are endless.
A person who does not get enough sleep is cranky and almost intolerable, but they are also damaging their body. Continued sleep deprivation increases the risk of depression, obesity and it impairs one’s immune system. It is during the REM cycle where memories are consolidated and the body slows down and heals. It is during this period where one rest, where they reset and recharge.
Every single adult on this planet needs between 7 and 9 hours sleep every night. This is non-negotiable. The effect of a single late night will make itself abundantly known very quickly, the prolonged effects could be quite devastating.
14. Use more fresh herbs when cooking
Smoking may be the leading serial killer, but fast food and pre-packaged food is coming in close on its heels. We do not cook like we used to. We may have better and more abundant ingredients and more advanced equipment, but we just don’t cook like we used to. We do not have time to. Tons of people leave the house before the sun come up and arrive home long after it has gone down. Where in this mad rat race that we call being a grown up, can someone possibly find time to cook a wholesome meal. Considering this, fast food chains and repackaged food are kings. These are not rulers which should be worshipped. In fact, these rulers should be dethroned and banished!
These store-bought foods are highly processed, pumped with chemicals, and have a staggering number of calories. Obesity is rising at a startling rate in America and it is largely due to these foods. The health impacts are terrifying, and the associated environmental impacts of these chains are positively disgusting. Homemade is always better.
The key to health and the homemade food is planning and ingredients. Many delicious and nutritious meals can be made on the weekend and then frozen for later. Making these foods by hand will instantly boost one’s health and immune system, but there is a way to supercharge it.
Herbs and spices add natural flavoring to food. A meal is incomplete without them. There are some herbs though, which ought to be used in vast amounts. These are garlic, ginger, rosemary, oregano, and turmeric. All of which boost the immune system and make a dish pop.
15. Replace at least one cup of coffee with green tea
Not many people can get through the morning without their regular cup of joe. Assuming that this cup of coffee is not loaded with sugar and cream, then there is actually nothing wrong with this. Recently, it has been shown that coffee can be quite healthy. It can apparently promote circulation and cardiac health. On top of that, it gives you a much-needed kick in the behind. Coffee in the morning is great, coffee in the morning is sacred. This need not change. But, green tea is arguably just as good.
Green tea has been enjoyed for centuries in India and China, for both its taste and medicinal benefits. Being the least processed of the teas, it is loaded with antioxidants. These fight the formation and action of free radicals. Free radicals are essentially the things that age a person. They attack the membranes of the cell. This is a natural process, but it sure doesn’t hurt to slow it down.
This is only the beginning when it comes to the benefits of green tea. It can help prevent cancer, decrease the prevalence of heart disease, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of a stroke, aid in weight loss and decrease inflammation.
These little green leaves are not simply a beverage, they are a veritable medicinal cocktail. Added to this list of health benefits is the caffeine content of green tea. An 8-ounce cup of green tea has about 35mg of caffeine. This value is obviously much lower than coffee but is it an acceptably large dose. Start the day with a cup of coffee and consider ending it with a cup of green tea.