Be Strong, Stay Strong, Be Healthy!

Aon Health & Wellbeing Conversation #3

The importance of keeping your immune system shipshape cannot be overstated, especially at times like these. Here are some simple tips on how to boost your immunity, know if you are physically compromised, and live a healthier life.
Our immune system is the first defense against sickness and disease. It comprises of structures and processes that records how it has fought and defeated microbes so when they infect the body again, the immune system can help to destroy them again. Our immune system can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells, recognizing health hazard cues called “danger-associated molecular patterns or DAMPs” caused by non-infectious agents, and “pathogen-associated molecular patterns or PAMPs” caused by viruses and bacteria.
The following are some indicators signifying a weak or compromised immune system. Some of these may indicate one or more health issues. Should you experience any of the issues below, especially with frequency and severity, or a combination, see your doctor immediately.
  • Susceptibility to infections – frequent, severe, and harder to treat
  • Autoimmune disorders – your immunity attacks your body instead of germs
  • Digestive issues – diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, abnormal cramping
  • Blood disorders – anemia, etc.
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections – colds, cough, sore throat
  • Delayed healing and recovery from sicknesses as well as wounds
  • Fatigue / Tiredness
  • Heightened stress level
  • Dry and/or yellow eyes; patching or yellowing of skin, and skin rashes
  • Hair loss – patchy and/or clumpy
  • Fever
  • Joint pains
  • Cold hands / Tingling or numbness on hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Drastic or unexplained weight changes
  • Inflammations of internal organs
  • Growth and development delays – for infants and children
Here are some diet and lifestyle tips to keep yourselves stronger and healthier!
Lifestyle and Wellbeing
  • Exercise and be active – builds your muscles, eases stress, and revs up your defenses. A 30-minute activity a day is enough.
  • Get enough sleep – most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Ensure that you have a regular bedtime schedule, and avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Relax and destress – certain stress levels are good for the body. Anything excessive and repetitive affects your wellbeing.
  • Build a strong social network and/or get a pet – it has been said, “No man is an island”. Humans are designed for companionship!
  • Stay positive and laugh a lot – your defenses work better when you’re happy.
  • Drop the vice – say no to smoking and drinking, they do not do any good to the body.
  • Wash your hands as often as you can – you don’t know how many germs your hands touch daily. You need to kill them with handwashing (or with alcohol or hand sanitiser if washing with soap and water is not available) before you transport them to other parts of your body and pass them on to others.
Diet and Supplementation
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits – they are full of anti-oxidants and nutrients. The more colourful the composition is, the better. Not to mention, more enticing to eat!
  • Take supplements to fill gaps in your diet – Vitamins C, E, and B6 are essential for boosting the immune system. (Some supplements may have side effects when combined with other medication or if taken before a surgery. Please consult your doctor before you consume. It is still best to get your supply of vitamins directly from nutritious foods.)
  • Cook food thoroughly, especially meat – raw or undercooked meat may still harbour contaminants that should have been eliminated by heat.
  • Stay hydrated – drink lots of water and avoid beverages that can make you dehydrated. You may also supplement with hydrating foods like cucumbers, celery, and watermelon. Water helps produce lymph that carries white blood and other immune system cells.
  • Observe a normal eating routine – ensures that your body is nourished consistently.
As a supplement, below is a food guide to help you choose what to have on your tables to get you the right amount of nutrients in the body.
Citrus fruits (i.e. lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit) – vitamin C
Berries (i.e. elderberry, acai berry) – antioxidants
Kiwi – folate, potassium, vitamins K and C
Apple – vitamin C, fiber, polyphenols
Papaya – vitamins C and B, potassium, folate, papain (digestive enzyme)
Watermelon – glutathione
Red bell peppers – vitamin C, beta-carotene
Broccoli – vitamins A, C, and E, glutathione, fiber
Garlic – lowers cholesterol, fights bacteria, viruses, and fungi
Turmeric – anti-inflammatory agents, curcumin
Tea – polyphenols and flavonoids (antioxidants), amino acid L-theanine for green tea
Ginger – antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents
Spinach – folate, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and more!
Low-fat yogurt – probiotics, vitamin D
Almonds – vitamin E
Sunflower seeds – phosphorous, magnesium, vitamins B6 and E
Button mushrooms – vitamin B, selenium
Oysters - zinc
Wheat germ – fiber, protein, healthy fat
Sweet potato – beta-carotene/vitamin A
Miso, pickles, olives (and other fermented foods) – probiotics
Avocado – vitamin E, healthy fats
Chickpeas – protein, fiber, zinc
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