Given the current state of affairs, and with flu season just around the corner, individuals both young and old, fit and unfit, are taking a vested interest in their health, and more specifically their immune system.
And, while you will never be able to avoid illness and infection 100% (and you wouldn’t want to either), there are several things you can do to make sure your immune system is prepped and prepared for battle against all manner of microscopic ne’er-do-wells.
Today, we’re giving you 5 tips to optimize immune function.
Let’s get started!
5 Tips to Optimize Immune Function
#1 Limit Alcohol Consumption
This time of year, the days are hot and long, and nothing sounds better than kicking your feet up and sipping on a cool, refreshing adult beverage, be it cocktail or craft beer.
As enjoyable as those libations maybe, over-consuming them can torpedo your immune system.
You see, alcohol affects the structure and integrity of the GI tract, by altering the quantity and composition of your gut bacteria.
These organisms play a key role in the function of the immune system.
Alcohol disrupts communication between the gut microbiome and the intestinal immune system.
Furthermore, drinking alcohol consumption also damages epithelial cells, T cells, and neutrophils in the GI system. T cells and neutrophils are important components of the immune system, FYI.
Excessive alcohol consumption also disrupts gut barrier function and encourages leakage of microbes into the circulation.
Chronic alcohol consumption isn’t the only thing to be concerned with. Having too many drinks within a day can also impair immune function as research indicates that acute binge drinking adversely affects the immune system.
Other research indicates that moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with either no risk or a decreased risk for upper respiratory infections.
Current recommendations according to the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that “moderate drinking” is one drink per day for women and one to two standard drinks for men.
The takeaway here is that the occasional drink may not impair your immune function, but chronic and/or acute heavy drinking can. So, if you’re looking to optimize immune function, you would be wise to limit your intake of alcohol.
#2 Drink Enough Fluids
Water is essential to life, there are no two ways about it.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that being dehydrated can significantly impair the optimal function of the immune system.
In addition to immune function, physical performance, cognitive function, recovery, and memory can also be impaired by dehydration.
That’s why it’s vitally important to stay sufficiently hydrated each day.
Consuming enough water is important for hydration, but it’s not everything. You also need electrolytes as they help maintain fluid balance and hydration both within the cell and outside of it.
To support the hydration needs of hard training individuals, we’ve included a comprehensive electrolyte matrix in our post-workout supplement MusclePharm BCAA essentials. Intense exercise depletes the body’s water and electrolyte stores and can lead to a dehydrated state if not replenished. Pure Rebuild contains the vital nutrients your body needs to repair, recover, and rehydrate following training all the while supporting immune function.
#3 Get Enough Sleep
Simply put, youneedto get enough sleep each and every night if you want to optimize immune function.
The sad fact is that most individuals (young and old), don’t get enough each night.
Studies show chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in inflammatory markers as well as immunodeficiency.
Furthermore, the immune system’s response to vaccination is also depressed during periods of sleep deprivation, and people are also more susceptible to infection from the common cold when deprived of sleep.
One of the reasons that sleep deprivation impairs immune function is that it places the body in a state of chronic stress, which is known to increase cortisol levels, promote inflammation, encourage fat gain, and compromise immune function and health.
In the words of the researchers:
“In summary, chronic sleep deprivation can be seen as an unspecific state of chronic stress, which per se impacts immune functions and general health.”
In other words, if you want to optimize immune function, then youmustget enough sleep every night of the week.
Good sleep begins with good sleep hygiene:
Keep a consistent bedtime
Make your room cool (~66-68℉)
Wear loose, light, comfortable clothes
Avoid blue light (phones, TV, laptops, tablets, LEDs) 2 hours before bed
Limit caffeine intake 5-6 hours before bed
Limit alcohol intake 2-3 hours before bed (refer to point #1)
Avoid stress before bed (emails, texts, social media, etc.)
You can also try some calming techniques to help you unwind at night, including:
It’s not possible to go through life without ever getting sick. You have an immune system for a reason, and it’s there to help you combat pathogens to become stronger, more resilient.
Use the tips outlined above to optimize your immune function so that you can help keep illness and infection at bay, and should you get sick, your immune function will be better equipped to fight the infection so you can recover quicker.
Let us know in the comment how you think and if you have any questions about this topic, feel free to ask. Besides, we will also gladly help you to learn more about protein powder, pre-workout, or other supplements you would like to find/use in Singapore.