We are what we eat. It is common knowledge that a strong immune system helps a person stay healthy by fighting off bacteria and viruses, which is why experts say that a well-balanced diet filled with nutritious foods is a strong defense against chronic and dangerous conditions such as, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, among others. According to Dr. Edem Danyo, food is vital for growth and having the right type of food in its right amount goes a long way. Apart from food, there are other things that help boost our immune system. He notes that some of these are exercise, for instance, exercising regularly keeps the body in shape and most importantly helps the heart to function well. When the heart is functioning well, its major function, the supply of blood to important parts of the body, helps and improves general health, he adds. In addition, Danyo states that adequate sleep is key. “Sleep is sometimes under looked and underestimated for its role in the boost of our immune system, yet lack of sleep suppresses the immune system by way of increasing the cortisol which reduces the B and T cells in the blood, which help in the immune defense system,” he explains. The health practitioner further notes that you should do away with stress as it increases cortisol and in turn reduces the effect of the immune system on our body. He also notes that conscious effort to avoid infection is necessary which is why he recommends regular hand washing and personal hygiene. This is because continuous strain overwhelms the immune system and eventually weakens it. Danyo recommends taking vitamin supplements, as the food we eat everyday may not meet the daily requirements to help the body’s immune system. So taking vitamins like A, C, D, and Zinc helps boost the immune system. According to Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutrition consultant, it’s advisable to take cold showers as they’re believed to increase the number of white blood cells in the body—these blood cells protect your body against diseases. He adds that taking a cold shower is known to reduce the rate of sickness. According to Cleveland Clinic, a clinical trial in the Netherlands found that cold showers led to a 29 per cent reduction in people calling off sick from work. Another study even connected cold showers to improved cancer survival. On the mental health side, researchers found that cold showers may help relieve symptoms of depression, though more research is needed. Ntamanga urges fasting for longer hours a day as it allows the body to start producing new white blood cells, which restores the immune system to fight infection. He carries on that appreciation statements such as, ‘thank you’ can curb stress. Researchers emphasise that it’s essential to focus our attention on the things that you’re grateful for, as this hinders worrying and negative thoughts. Ntamanga stresses that being grateful helps maintain better physical and mental health. He also notes that laughing often is healthy as laughter assists to enhance the immune system by surging the production of anti-infection antibodies and T-cells in the blood that help protect people from infections. “When you laugh, the brain releases endorphins, lowers stress hormones like cortisol, alleviates blood pressure and increases circulation,” he states. Mayo Clinic states that laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress, and enhance your intake of oxygen-rich air, and stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles.