Come flu season, how to boost immune system is a question many of us grapple with. After all, a strong immune system is our best line of defense against illness.
It is the body’s defense mechanism against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign bodies, playing a vital role in maintaining our overall health and wellness. So, how do we ensure its proper upkeep and smooth functioning?
Thankfully, there are many natural ways to boost your immune system effectively. Here are 8 easy, sustainable, and effective ways to boost immunity and improve your overall health.
8 Ways To Boost Your Immune System
- Maintain A Healthy Diet
We are what we eat. So, it should come as no surprise that a healthy diet is essential for strengthening your immune system.
A healthy diet should include an array of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes to ensure you get all the necessary micronutrients and vitamins. You should also include adequate antioxidants, which will help reduce inflammation and increase healthy bacteria in your gut.
Eating healthy also means avoiding or limiting the intake of cholesterol, sugar, salt, and saturated fats.
- Exercise Regularly
Regular moderate exercise is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. It not only helps in maintaining a healthy weight but can also improve the functioning of your immune system.
Exercise can reduce inflammation, help fight off infections, and help your body regenerate immune cells regularly. Physical activity also helps reduce the release of stress hormones, improve physical fitness, keep your bones strong, clear the airways, flush out bacteria, and more.
Exercise is also known to combat health conditions and diseases.
- Get Plenty Of Sleep
Adequate sleep and rest are known to have a link with a healthy immune system.
When we sleep, our body produces cytokines — a protein that targets inflammation and infection and initiates an immune response. Cytokines also produce T-cells, another defense cell that is vital in fighting off infections.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune cells take a hit while inflammatory cells strengthen, resulting in a host of health issues. It is thus crucial to get 7-8 hours of sleep every day.
Take precautionary measures if your sleep is disturbed by external factors. Here are a few tips to get restful sleep:
- Sleep in a dark room, and limit screen time before sleeping
- Avoid consumption of caffeine about 6 hours before bedtime,
- Exercise regularly and try to go to bed at the same time daily to develop healthy sleep-wake patterns.
- Try meditation and yoga to promote relaxation.
- Aromatherapy is another popular option for relaxing. Oils like lavender are known to increase the quality of sleep.
- Stay Hydrated
The human body is 70% water. Hydration is not only important for nutrient absorption but it is also a vital part of your lymphatic system and blood circulation. The lymphatic fluid contains lymphocytes, which aid in fighting off infection. The lymph circulates throughout the body and eliminates wastes, toxins, impurities, viruses, and bacteria. Water also helps maintain the mucous membrane. The mucous membrane protects the airways and entraps any foreign body trying to invade through this route.
You lose water through your urine, sweat, and even your breath. And if you do not replenish this lost water, you will experience minor signs of dehydration like headache, fatigue, and indigestion. Persistent dehydration can affect kidney and heart function, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
While you can hydrate yourself with tea, coffee, and other beverages, water is the best source of hydration as it is free from sugar, additives, and calories.
- Manage Your Stress Levels
When you question how to boost immune system, you may not pay much attention to your mental health. But managing your stress levels is also crucial for maintaining your body’s optimum health.
Stress reduces the level of white blood cells, inhibits your immune system, and increases the production of cytokines and cortisol, which can exacerbate inflammation.
Chronic stress can increase the levels of stress hormones, which further increases the body’s inflammatory response. When there is persistent and chronic inflammation, it wears down the immune system and makes it less effective.
Although reducing stress is better said than done, you can undertake activities and preventive measures to help you keep away from stress. Try meditation, deep breathing, exercising, adopting a hobby, or even consulting a therapist to help manage your stress levels.
- Take Supplements Wisely
If you are a picky eater and your body is not receiving enough nutrients from your diet, consider taking supplements to boost immune system.
Dietary supplements help in augmenting your daily requirements for nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. These include probiotics, fish oils, botanicals, enzymes, fatty acids, animal extracts, garlic, and much more.
Fish oil supplement, for example, is an excellent immune system booster and can offer numerous health benefits. Look for a good quality supplement like green pasture cod liver oil. It is made from nutrient-rich cod liver oil and contains fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A and D, Omega 3, 6, 7, and nine fatty acids!
You can also take other supplements that many people tend to be deficient in, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamins C and D, zinc, iron, and calcium.
However, make sure you consult a medical practitioner before starting supplements. They will typically suggest a few tests and examine your diet to assess whether you are deficient in any nutrient and prescribe supplements accordingly.
- Avoid Alcohol And Smoking
When you are searching for answers to how to strengthen immune system, it’s pertinent to consider health-deteriorating habits as well. And the two major vices that can harm your immunity are alcohol and smoking.
Alcohol, when consumed in access, can lead to many health issues. It weakens the immune system, damages your organs, and is one of the major causes of premature death. It can also lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, which compromise your immune system.
Smoking can adversely affect almost every organ in your body. Apart from people who smoke, it also affects passive smokers around them. Smoking causes problems with the immune system, can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, and may increase the risk of cancer, lung diseases, diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke. So, if you haven’t already, quit smoking.
- Stay Optimistic, Connected, And Positive
When you look up what are ways to boost your immune system that do not rely on diet or exercise, you may come across answers like staying connected and positive. This may sound far-fetched, but having a more positive outlook in life can work wonders for your health.
Studies have shown that healthy relationships can help you recover from illnesses, strengthen your immune system, and even help you live a long healthy life. Positive thinking is also known to help the body fight off diseases. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves your relationships, and increases productivity.
From diet and exercise to supplements and mental health, our immune system is a multi-layered network. And to keep it functioning like a well-oiled machine, you need to pay attention to various aspects of your lifestyle. We hope these tips help you understand how to boost immune system effectively. Remember, a few simple and small but actionable steps can go a long way to boosting your overall immunity and keeping you healthy!