The best way to improve immunity is to follow a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of simple yet proven guidelines, adherence to which can ensure that the immune system is strong and healthy.

Smoking: “It is the presence of nicotine, an addictive drug that makes people continue smoking. Besides nicotine, cigarette smokers inhale nearly 7000 other chemicals. Many of these chemicals are actively involved in causing damage to the body. It must be noted that tobacco smoke has more than 70 famous cancer-causing chemicals and it has been proven that smoking negatively impacts almost every organ, ” says Dr Prashant Kumar Dash, Director-Medical Services at Medlife.

Not eating fruits and vegetables: Vitamins and minerals are capable of nutritionally boosting immunity. Consumption of organic whole foods like fruits, vegetables, green tea, honey, herbs, nuts and seeds can enhance our body’s defence against infections and diseases. Citrus fruits have a high concentration of Vitamin C which can be effective in combating cold and flu symptoms. Foods like yoghurt, homemade pickles, etc. contain bacteria that are of a friendlier kind and strongly defend our gut immunity. Honey is famous as a cure for sore throats but also contains a higher number of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties which help the body fight bacteria, fungus and viral infections.

Not getting ample sleep: It is essential to sleep sufficiently. Sleep is the phase when our body recovers from the physical, emotional and mental duress of daily life. Inadequate sleep forces the body to react in the same way as it would under stress. This further leads to inflammation and also suppresses the immune system.

Not exercising: “The importance of physical exercise on our body’s immune system and well-being cannot be overemphasized. Exercise boosts circulation and makes the lungs perform better. Our body is able to flush out pathogens as well as other bacteria and virus. Exercising outdoors exposes us to sunlight, fresh air and vitamin D. Hence, even if heavy exercise is not possible, a brisk walk in the open can be very helpful,” Dr Prashant says.

Taking too much stress: Persistent or chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. Chronic stress leads to higher cortisol production leading to inflammation. This further has a cascading effect on the immune system sending it in on overdrive. Such a response from the body can complicate allergies and lead to diseases germinating out of autoimmunity. Meditation, deep breathing exercises and various forms of yoga are known to be effective in combating stress. According to studies, meditation also leads to an increase in anti-infection antibodies and activates the region of the brain responsible for immunity.