5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Before Exams

Don’t want to risk falling sick during exam periods? Here’s what you need to do to prevent that!

Updated 21 Feb 2020

5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Before Exams - Feature-Image

Our immune system is important to protect us from the flu, colds and other illnesses. When it is not functioning properly, we bear the consequence of falling sick and feeling unwell. Want to know how to maintain your best self for exam season by boosting your immune system? Read on!

#1. Sleep

Ways To Boost Your Immune System Before Exams-Sleep

We know this point is overstated, but boy, ain’t it true.

Sleep deprivation can actually cause us to catch colds much faster as it can suppress our immune system. When you sleep, your body goes into repair mode — so not getting enough sleep can lead to inflammation in the body.That is why you easily get sick when you don’t have an adequate amount of sleep.

According to MD Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas, “The more all-nighters you pull, the more likely you are to decrease your body’s ability to respond to colds or bacterial infections.” However, with a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel super recharged and will be able to study productively the next day!

With that being said, here’s the amount of sleep a typical student needs:

  • High schoolers (age 14-17) : 8-10 hours
  • Adults (age < 65) : 7-9 hours

#2. Wash your hands frequently

Ways To Boost Your Immune System Before Exams-Wash Hands

How often do you wash your hands? If your answer is, “Less than 7 times a day”, you're failing in basic hygieneand leaving yourself vulnerable to diseases.

According to the Global Hygiene Council, washing your hands more than six times a day is considered basic hygiene and people who do so tend to suffer less frequently from infectious diseases. This is because cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours. When you touch these surfaces, the pathogens can be transmitted to your hands and food, causing you to get sick.

If you’re thinking about using hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands, you should know that only those with 60 to 95 percent alcohol are effective at killing germs. Plus, hand sanitizers are not as good at removing bacteria compared to regular soap and water. So, handwashing is still the best option!

Did you know? Washing your hands frequently doesn’t mean you have OCD (unless you wash 50 times a day).

#3. Drink water

Ways To Boost Your Immune System Before Exams-Drink More Water

Does your mum frequently nag you to drink more water? Well, we don’t wanna be Mum, but we can’t stress this enough either. And no, drinking coffee, energy drinks, soda or any other form of liquid does not count. We’re talking about plain water — the most powerful beverage of all.

Drinking enough water can help your kidneys flush toxins effectively from the body. This could help prevent toxins from building upand causing a negative impact on your immune system.

The best way to get hydrated is to start the day off with a huge glass of warm water since our bodies get dehydrated while we sleep. When you drink water in the morning, you’ll feel your body instantly ‘wake up’ as your cells get replenished. This is because our body is made up of around 60% water — which we need to live and stay healthy.


To add an extra boost of vitamin C (which is known to build the immune system), add lemon into your water. Its antibacterial properties help fight infections and keep away colds!

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#4. Sugar is a no-no

Ways To Boost Your Immune System Before Exams-Cut Down Sugar

We know, we know. Sugar cravings tend to build up during exam periods and we often wonder why ‘study breaks’ turn into ‘dessert breaks’ most of the time.

Although consuming small amounts of sugar will not bring about any damaging effects to the body, eating too much sugar will, however, affect your immune system. This effect can last for at least a few hours after having sweet food or drinks.

Eating or drinking too much sugar hinders the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria.In other words, it harms your immune system. This is because when viruses invade your body, white blood cells come to the defence and use vitamin C to fight them. There’s just one problem — the glucose from sugar resembles vitamin C so your body uses it by mistake, and your infection spreads.

However, not ALL sugar is bad for you. Natural sugar such as those found in fruits and honey are not the same as processed sugar — those found in most desserts and fizzy drinks. Processed sugar and the immune system are enemies because it doesn't offer any nutrients or vitamins.

So, the next time you feel like indulging in some of your guilty pleasures, ask yourself: Are my cakes and cookies worth the risk?

#5. Mushrooms

Ways To Boost Your Immune System Before Exams-Mushrooms

Good news for all you mushroom-lovers out there! Now, not only do you get to enjoy the taste of mushrooms, you get the assurance that your immune system is thanking you as you eat them.

Of course, we’re talking ‘bout the edible ones, silly. These medicinal mushroomshave a long history of use in Chinese, Japanese, and Eastern European medicine traditions. In fact, they are known for supporting the immune system and normalising it by keeping it on alert.

In a recent study led by Prof. Sue Percival, UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor, it is shown that those who ate mushrooms regularly not only gained positive effects on their immune system, but also had a reduction in inflammatory proteins in the body. "We're enhancing the immune system, but we're also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces." said Percival.

There are many types of mushrooms that do the trick, even common edibles like shiitake and oyster mushrooms. So next time you go grocery shopping, don't forget to stock up on these immune-boosting veggies.

A healthy body equals a healthy mind — and that is exactly what you need when studying for exams. Be sure to follow these tips to maintain optimum health during exam periods. Don’t disregard your sleep and diet during this time because it won’t be worth it.

Want to know what food you should eat to keep your brain alert for exams? Find out here!

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    Faith Ooi

    Faith Ooi

    A feeder and English major who loves to sniff coffee, eat avocados and sing.