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6 Effective Ways To Boost Your Immune System


By Joshua Ng (Pharmacist, Caring Pharmacy) | Malaysia | Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:46pm

A strong immune system protects against infections. Infections are usually caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. Infections will affect a person’s ability to live, work and function as normal. Here are 6 effective ways to boost the immune system!

1.     Exercise
-      The World Health Organization (WHO) states that being physically active can prolong one’s lifespan. It can also reduce heart diseases, high blood pressure and prevent numerous other health diseases1.
-      Moderate exercise is known to boost the immune system2.
-      The Malaysian dietary guidelines recommends3:
~  30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on at least 5 days a week.
~  Be active everyday
~   Perform activities that increase flexibility, strength and endurance of the muscles on at least 2 days a week.
-      Case scenario:
~   If you are a 60 year old retiree - Recommendation: Take a jog or walk in the neighborhood park for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  Do Tai-Chi for 30 minutes in the morning on Tuesday and Friday.
 
2.     Maintain a Healthy Weight
-      Obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, low quality of life, and many other diseases 4.
-      A 2015 survey revealed that 14% of Malaysians are obese, and 30% are considered as overweight5.
-      The WHO categorizes Body Mass Index (BMI) kg/m2 as
~   Underweight: ≤18.5
~   Normal: 18.5 - 25
~   Overweight: ≥25.0
~   Obese: ≥30.0
-      The Malaysian dietary guidelines recommends3:
~   Maintain body weight by balancing calorie intake with physical activity
~   Weigh your body weight once a week
~   If you are an adult, prevent gradual weight gain over time
~   If overweight, aim for a slow and steady weight loss
~   If underweight, increase calorie intake
-      Case scenario:
~   Subject: Male, age 30. Weight: 65kg, height: 1.71m
Calculated BMI = 65/(1.71x1.71) = 22.2kg/m2.He is therefore classified as normal weight. If he were to gain 8kg more (i.e. 73kg), his BMI would go up to 25kg/m2 and would then be classified as overweight
 
3.     Have a Well-Balanced Diet
-      A healthy diet improves the immune system. It also increases energy and daily performance levels6.
-      The Malaysian dietary guidelines recommends the following3:
~   Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday
~   Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday
-      The Food Pyramid can help you to achieve a balance diet3         
~   From bottom to the top, each food group becomes smaller indicate that one should eat more servings of the food group in the bottom and lesser of the food group at the top

Image 1. Malaysian Food Pyramid. Malaysian Dietary Guidelines. Ministry of Health, Malaysia (2010)3.
 

4.     Get Enough Sleep
-      A 2018 survey in Malaysia revealed that 9 in 10 of Malaysians suffer from sleep disorders7.
-      Healthy sleep is associated with improved brain function, emotional wellbeing, improved physical health, daytime performance and fewer errors committed at work8.
-      The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends adults aged 18 years or older to have 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day8.
-      Adopt these habits to improve your sleep5:
~   Avoid bright artificial light an hour before sleep
~   Avoid heavy meals before bed time
~   Exercise during the day
~   Take a hot bath an hour before bed
 
5.     Quit Smoking
-      A 2015 report found that 43% of Malaysian men and 1.4% of Malaysian women smoke tobacco daily9.
-      Smoking is associated with10:
~   Lung infections
~   Lung diseases
~   Heart attacks
~   Strokes
~   Cancers, etc
-      Contact a pharmacist or a doctor to help you quit. You may also visit this website for further information on how to quit. You can also visit the JOMQUIT website for further information: http://jomquit.moh.gov.my
 
6.     Strengthen Your Gut
-      Various studies have linked digestive health with the immune system11,12,13.
-      The digestive tract is host to trillions of friendly live bacteria (Probiotics). The main purpose of these friendly bacteria is to protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. Exposure of the digestive tract to harmful bacteria may lead to inflammatory diseases11,12,13.
-      Research suggests that probiotics may play a role in strengthening the immune system11.
-      Probiotics are available as yogurt, drinks, and as oral supplements which you can purchase from pharmacy outlets.




References:

1.      Physical Activity and Adults. (Web accessed February 2019) Web link: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/

2.      Exercise and the regulation of immune functions. RJ Simpson, H Kunz, N Agha and R Graff (2015). Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science.

3.      A guide to healthy living. Malaysian Dietary Guidelines. Ministry of Health, Malaysia (2010). (Web accessed February 2019) Web link: http://nsm.nutritionmonthmalaysia.org.my/dietary-guidelines/

4.      The health effects of overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Web accessed February 2019). Web link: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

5.      National health and morbidity survey (2015). Non-communicable diseases, risk factors and other health problems. Volume II. (NMRR – 14-1064-21877). Institute of Public Health. Ministry of Health Malaysia.

6.      Balanced Diet. N Butler (2016). Healthline. (Web accessed February 2019). Web link: https://www.healthline.com/health/balanced-diet

7.      Sleep disorders affect 9 in 10 Malaysians. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/12/437987/sleep-disorders-affect-9-10-malaysians

8.      Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Instritute. US Department of Health and Human Services. (Web accessed February 2019). Web link:https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

9.      The Tobacco Atlas. Malaysia. (Web accessed February 2019). Web link: https://tobaccoatlas.org/country/malaysia/

10.    Clinical Practice Guidelines on Treatment of Tobacco Use Disorder (2016). Ministry of Health Malaysia.

11.    The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. F Purchiaroni, A Tortora, A Gasbarrini, et al. (2013) European Reivew for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.

12.    Role of the gut microbiota in immunity and inflammatory disease. N Kamada, SU Seo, GY Chean and G Nunez. (2013) Natures Reviews. Immunology.

13.    Interaction between the gut microbiome and mucosal immune system. N Shi, N Li, X Duan, H Niu. (2017). Military Medical Research.

 

 

 






 

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