Take our test to find out how to beat minor ailments and boost your immunity with just a couple simple life changes.
When you’re feeling a bit run down, like you might be on the verge of a cold, or your eczema flares up, chances are that you might need to take a few extra vitamin C tablets or slather on the steroid cream. But your immune system needs long-term attention if it’s really going to serve you well and help prevent any problems. Modern living, including poor diet, lack of exercise, high alcohol consumption, smoking, medication and pollution – which in turn can mean you don’t sleep well and suffer from increased stress levels – can all dramatically weaken your immune system.
Take our test to help identify your health weaknesses – just answer yes or no to each question – and see what you can do to strengthen your resistance in the long run…
Take the test:
- Do you get more than three colds a year?
- Do you suffer from allergies?
- Do you eat processed foods or takeaways more than once a week?
- Do you drink more than 1 unit of alcohol a day?
- Do you drink less than 1 litre of water a day?
- Do you smoke more than five cigarettes a day?
- When you feel stressed, do you turn to cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, etc?
- Do you find it almost impossible to relax and switch off, even when you have some free time?
- Do you often get upset, angry, anxious or irritable?
- Is your job sedentary?
- Do you spend less than one hour exposed to natural sunlight each day?
- Are you on any medication?
- Do you find it hard to make time for yourself – to relax, pamper, laugh?
- Have you recently been through a divorce or break-up of a serious relationship?
- Have you suffered a major personal bereavement in the past year?
- Do you often have problems sleeping at night?
If you scored:
12 or more ‘yes’ answers
If you’re not already suffering from a host of immune-related symptoms, you may soon. Act now to make diet and lifestyle changes. Use our guide, to help you. For back-up, consider seeing a nutritionist or a life coach and make sorting out your immunity a top priority.
6-12 ‘yes’ answers
You may be just about coping without having too many symptoms. But what if life throws up a few extra stresses? There may be a few quick-fix solutions, like getting more sleep, but it takes time to recover from a bereavement, for example. Identify things you can do something about and make realistic changes.
0-6 ‘yes’ answers
Your immune system is under limited stress and is in good order. You may have your ups and downs, but should remain healthy most of the time, as long as you look after yourself during stressful times.
Your immune power action plan!
1. Eat natural
Nature has made healthy eating relatively easy by providing plenty of health-giving nutrients in some
of the tastiest foods. But all too often we get stuck in our ways, and cook the same things the same way, day in and day out. So take inspiration. Buy yourself a new cookbook for some fresh ideas.
2. Drink plenty of water
It’s believed that many illnesses spring from a simple unrecognised cause – we don’t drink enough water. Are you dehydrated? A dry mouth, fatigue and a flushed complexion are all signs that your body may need water. Drink eight glasses of water a day. If you find this hard, increase your intake by drinking herbal teas.
Build up your water intake gradually over two to three weeks. After a short time, your kidneys will adapt so that you won’t be constantly running to the loo.
3. Cut down on alcohol and smoking
Both alcohol and cigarettes may act as immune suppressants, and won’t do you any favours when it comes to getting healthy. If you usually relax with a couple of glasses of wine after work each evening, slowly wean yourself off and try substituting wine with a non-alcoholic cocktail. Stopping smoking can be really tough. To help improve your chances of seeing it through, find yourself a ‘give-up buddy’. You can encourage each other and even treat yourselves to a shopping spree or dinner out, as a motivating reward.
4. Move it – but not too much
The effects of exercise can be far-reaching. During exercise, blood and lymph fluid flow freely and become an internal source of energy on which we thrive. But many of us are not aware that you can overdo it – and too much exercise actually acts as an immune suppressor, so don’t go over the top. Get outside and get active whenever the elements allow – being outdoors will give you a sense of health and vitality.
Exercise doesn’t have to be all about hard work. Make it fun by trying a dance class, flying a kite, or even doing a sponsored event such as a fund-raising walk.
5. Lighten up your life
Many of us spend our waking hours cooped up inside, without much natural daylight. However, light (which increases our number of T-cells, vital for body maintenance), is one essential that we take for granted. Without it, our immune systems begin to falter. Spend at least three hours a week in natural daylight. Wrap up warmly and go on bike rides with the family. Try and give your eyes a break from sunglasses every now and then – it’s vital for your eyes to get some natural light.
6. Get a massage
Massage is highly relaxing, and it can also boost your immunity and remove toxins that weaken resistance. Whether you’re trying to stay healthy and prevent disease or you want to treat specific symptoms, massage is therapeutic as well as indulgent. Aromatherapy massage with essential oils uses gentle, sweeping strokes. This helps lymph fluid flow freely, to boost immunity. The oils used treat specific problems. For instance lavender helps promote restful sleep.
7. Think positive thoughts
Is the glass half full or half empty? This psychological question is often used to sum up whether you have a sunny outlook or you’re naturally pessimistic. We all have a benchmark of happiness, against which we judge life. Negative thoughts create a polluted environment for mind and body, and have a profound effect on immunity. Use each day as a new beginning. Every day, do something you want to do, not just what you
have to do. Smile! The more you do, the better you feel and others will warm to you. The happiness it brings boosts immunity.
8. Relaxation works wonders
While life is busier and faster than ever, we’ve all got to find time to relax. Without an outlet, our body’s stress levels increase, which affects our immune systems. Full relaxation is only achieved when the mind – which leads the body – is also relaxed. Meditation, yoga and tai chi improve the functioning and number of T cells, reduce the need for anti-depressants, lower blood pressure and improve health. Fitting in a weekly class can make a big difference.