Top tips to strengthen your immune system

Prevention is always better than the cure. One of the most important things you can do to avoid illness and maximise quality of life is to keep your immune system strong.

But how? Here’s our key tips.

Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, integrating these fresh foods into every meal. Check packaging labels and slash your sugar intake. Move away from takeaway or pre-packaged food; typically when you make more meals from scratch, it’s far easier to control your food and make better nutrition choices.

Going from little exercise to training in a gym every day may be unrealistic. However, making little lifestyle adjustments, such as walking to an appointment instead of driving, taking the stairs, taking the dog for an extra walk during the week, makes a big difference. More movement increases your base level of fitness and your general health.

Your body needs sleep to recover. And in our ever-connected worlds, poor sleep quality is a growing problem and a major factor in struggling immune systems. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep to be in tip top condition.

Mental health impacts physical health. If you’re stressed or impacted by anxiety, see what lifestyle adjustments you can make to improvements in this area. Meditation is helpful, along with reducing social media consumption. And taking the steps we’ve mentioned for your immune system will help your mental wellbeing, too. And of course, ensure you consult a doctor about any mental health challenges.

It’s not just about what to do, it’s about what not to do. Quit smoking. Drink alcohol only in moderation. Cut back on those coffees. Drink less sugary drinks and juice, and opt for more water.

Use common sense by washing your hands regularly, cooking your meat properly and steer clear from those who are sick. Follow the latest health advice from your doctor and credible health sources. And don’t forget to get plenty of fresh air and sunshine!

One of the best things to do is to get a regular health check up with your GP. We’d suggest at least once a year, and if you’re over 50 or have health conditions, you’ll need to come in more often. A check up is a great opportunity to get a general physical assessment, potentially identify any health concerns or risks early and also discuss any challenges or concerns you may have.

These 10 Healthy Tips can help you become more active in your healthcare.

This summary has been produced by the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Healthcare, which has been set up by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to improve the safety of healthcare in Australia.

Take part in every decision to help prevent things from going wrong and get the best possible care for your needs.

Ask questions.

Expect answers that you can understand.

Collect as much reliable information as you can.

Ask your healthcare professional:

  • What should I look out for?
  • Please tell me more about my condition, tests and treatment.
  • How will the tests or treatments help me and what is involved?
  • What are the risks and what is likely to happen if I don’t have this treatment?

Write them all down, including:

  • prescriptions,
  • over-the-counter,
  • complementary medicines (e.g. vitamins and herbs),
  • information about drug allergies you may have.

Read the label, including the warnings. Make sure it is what your doctor ordered for you.

Ask about:

  • directions for use,
  • possible side effects or interactions,
  • how long you’ll need to take it for?

Call your doctor to find out your results.

Ask what they mean for your care.

Ask:

  • How quickly does this need to happen?
  • Is there an option to have the surgery/procedure done as a day patient, or in an alternative hospital?

Ask:

  • What will the surgery or procedure involve and are there any risks?
  • Are there other possible treatments?
  • How much will it cost?

Tell your healthcare professionals if you have allergies or if you have ever had a bad reaction to an anesthetic or any other drug.

Confirm which operation will be performed and where, as close as possible to it happening.

Make sure you understand your continuing treatment, medicines and follow-up care.

Visit your GP as soon as possible after you are discharged.

* These 10 Tips have been adapted from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality patient fact sheets (available on the Internet at www.ahrq.gov/consumer).