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Enhancing immunity

Is your immune system at risk of being compromised

How to prepare for the looming dengue season and tips to enhance immunity

20 Feb 2023
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Is your immune system at risk of being compromised

Sometimes, recovering from certain illnesses makes us feel like a superhuman. Remember just after the Covid pandemic?

How many times did you hear someone declare “I already had Covid, I’m immune”, before marching out to buy lunch without a mask…then taking MC the next two weeks because they got re-infected?

But here’s the hard truth: Our immune systems are strong, but they’re not invincible.

Here are a few important things to know, to keep your immune system strong:

Being a grown adult doesn’t shield you from “kid’s diseases”

Some people may laugh at things which we often think of as children’s illnesses, but in reality, we’re still susceptible to them.

One classic example is Hand Food Mouth Disease (HFMD). It’s true that children aged five or below are more susceptible – but as MOH states, it can affect all people of ages.

Even though the symptoms are probably diminished for adults, you can still suffer things like fever, sore throat, ulcers, rashes, and lethargy. All of these may still be sufficient to stop you from getting to work (or at least will burn your weekend in a state of misery).

The one silver lining is that as an adult, you can still get insurance coverage for HFMD if you have a solid personal accident plan.

It’s easy to get complacent about diseases that don’t grab the spotlight 

During the past two years, COVID-19 took the spotlight as the scariest infectious disease. But truth be told, while the pandemic was raging, Singapore was also dealing with its worst dengue outbreak in history.

Though it received far fewer media attention, dengue is equally, if not more deadly than COVID-19. In 2020, more people died from dengue than COVID!

For that reason, even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies worldwide, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against dengue.

One way is to purchase a good personal accident policy. They can’t prevent you from getting dengue – that’s what the Mozzie Wipeout is for – but they can help you financially in case you fall ill and suffer a loss of income.

Be careful what you put in your body

Finally, in Singapore, we often take for granted that food is always safe to eat. 

Without proper food preparation, handling or storage, it’s very possible to come down with food poisoning. Worst of all, contaminated food may not look, smell or taste any different from food that is safe.

In the best-case scenarios, you’ll take a few days to recover. But in worst-case scenarios, food poisoning can eventually lead to hospitalisation or even death! Don’t take food safety for granted.

To avoid getting food poisoning, one should:

●  follow good hand washing and cleaning procedures
●  adopt good food handling procedures
●  not allow people affected by food poisoning to prepare food for others until there has been no diarrhoea or vomiting for 24 hours

So our immune systems aren’t perfect, but how do we keep them well-tuned?

According to Health Hub, the key steps are:

● Eating well (more on this below!)
● Having an active lifestyle - try to have about 30 minutes of physical activity a day, like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, etc.
● Be well-rested, and don’t hesitate to see a doctor for sleeping-related issues like sleep apnea, insomnia, etc. You need around seven to nine hours of sleep every night, to lower your risk of disease.
● Avoid smoking, as this can cause illnesses like cancer, which will damage your immune system (cancer treatments like chemotherapy will also weaken the immune system)
● Minimise stress. Stress reduces your body’s ability to produce lymphocytes, which are a critical part of your immune system. This means having sufficient “me time” to do things you enjoy, passions to pursue, and activities beyond work, work, work.

Finally, consider avoiding excessive carbohydrates in your meals. 

Eating too many carbs can cause a cycle of rapidly rising and subsequently falling blood sugar levels. This can prompt a stress response from your body, which builds anxiety, disrupts sleep, and makes you more prone to diseases. So go for a balanced diet, which minimises processed foods and especially high-sugar options.

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