For good reason, immunity is on the brain these days. With a global pandemic making its presence known - plus the added influence of the pending cold and flu seasons - winter is the perfect time for extra emphasis on the immune system. These days, there are plenty of ways to strengthen the immune system without shelling out hundreds of dollars on under-researched supplements and unproven cures; while it may be tempting to look to one magical cure-all, here’s the simple truth: those who handle illness the best are people who maintain a healthy lifestyle and are considered metabolically healthy.
Like everything, immune health starts with simple lifestyle choices. One of the best ways to improve immune functionality is by reducing stress. Another important player in immune health is adequate sleep on a nightly basis. And of course, you have to get moving.
It’s no secret that exercise is critical to immune health. However, scientists are equally interested in the role exercise plays in regard to immunity, now that immune system functionality has been thrust into the limelight.
Prioritizing sleep, stress and exercise is a great three-tiered approach because each factor contributes to increasingly noticeable results. Exercising reduces stress by releasing endorphins and improving sleep quality. When you sleep better, you generally feel less stressed - and you perform better in your workouts. And of course, all three factors improve immune function.
America has never maintained a top reputation for health-minded directives; unfortunately, the numbers show that. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that only about 12.2% of Americans are metabolically healthy - meaning only 1 in 8 people meet the minimum standards for cardiovascular health.
As the world continues to search for ways to fight COVID-19, there is increasing evidence that those who suffer from metabolic syndrome are far more likely to experience severe symptoms and hospitalization due to the underlying inflammation that accompanies it.
Scientists reviewing current literature have identified exercise as a key factor in increasing one’s resistance to many respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Luckily, studies show that exercise improves metabolic health and can help mitigate metabolic syndrome.
One of the tell-tale signs of a good workout is working up a sweat, but it also might be a good indicator that your body is working, too. Heat plays a role in our body’s health: a fever is not just a sign of infection; it is a sign that your body is actively fighting the infection. Well, heating things up and working up a sweat during moderate to intense exercise could have the same effect.
Experiments have also shown that exercise stimulates cells responsible for patrolling the body and fighting off pathogens.
As your muscles repeatedly contract during exercise, blood and lymph flow increases throughout the body. This also increases the circulation of your immune cells, spreading them through the body at a higher rate, in higher amounts. As these cells patrol your cells, cells such as T Cells and natural killer cells are able to wipe out pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who fulfill aerobic exercises five or more days a week experienced fewer upper respiratory tract infections.
The frequency here is important. Immune health is never a one-and-done deal - you have to maintain your regimen. Exercising once is better than nothing, but you will not see continued results without continued effort.
A review published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science examined decades of research on the link between the body’s natural defense system and exercise, and identified a number of notable highlights. First, it found a clear correlation between moderate exercise and illness - people who engage in regular, moderate exercise are simply less prone to illness. Moderate exercise means maintaining moderate intensity - your heart should be beating a little harder and you should breathe a little heavier. This threshold will vary from person to person: for some people, it may be a brisk walk, for others, it could be lifting weights or going for a run.
Oh, inflammation. Inflammation, or the body’s inflammatory response, is how your body fights disease. But sometimes, due to diet, stress or environmental factors, inflammation can get out of control, leading to decreased immune functionality. Inflammatory markers are biomarkers such as proteins that can help doctors identify inflammation and thus disease. Research has found that exercise reduces inflammatory markers, therefore reducing inflammation and improving immunity. When your immune system doesn’t have to fight increased inflammation, it can be more productive in fighting actual disease.
Today is always a great day to get moving. While exercise is not the only important part of achieving a healthy and strong immune system (let’s not forget a nutritious diet and plenty of sleep), it certainly isn’t a bad place to start. Whether you decide to go for a walk, work in an aerobic workout or hit the gym for a lift, your body and immune system thank you for the improved chance in fighting off viruses like the common cold and COVID-19.
And of course, the right supplement can make your job even easier. BUBS Naturals is committed to helping you achieve and maintain healthy immunity with our line of MCT Oils and Collagen Peptides which can play a role in achieving immunity. Our Fountain of Youth blend - formulated with immune-boosting vitamin C and maqui berry - can provide the boost you need at staying one step ahead of anything compromising your immune system.