Perhaps now more than ever, you’re probably concerned about the health of your immune system. After all, it serves as the frontline of defense against disease-causing microorganisms, not to mention global pandemics. In general, the immune system does a pretty good job, but every now and then, a crafty germ manages to slip through the cracks.
What follows can range from a mild flu to a serious illness. That’s why it pays to take the necessary measures to improve and maintain your immune response and keep your body in tip-top shape. There are many ways to do this. Here are 7 tips for strengthening your immune system.
A healthy diet will give you the upper hand over harmful bacteria. Stick to whole foods that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. The latter decreases inflammation by reducing the presence of free radicals, while vitamins and minerals lower vulnerability to illness. Look for foods that are rich in fiber as well.
Some great options include citrus (lemon, orange, lime, tangerine), red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, spinach, ginger, and plain yogurt. Almonds and sunflower seeds are an ideal snack here. Drinking more green tea will also help.
There’s a close link between immunity and sleep. This is partly due to the fact that not getting enough shuteye increases stress, which suppresses the immune system. One study of 164 healthy adults found that those who slept less than the recommended amount of time each night developed flu more often than those who slept over six hours.
As face masks and social distancing measures have taught us, prevention is key to staying safe. Lowering your exposure to airborne pathogens in areas where they are known to prevail is the most effective measure you can take. Some other important lifestyle changes include not smoking, minimizing stress, and avoiding alcohol.
Back to foods, it’s worth mentioning the importance of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that reside in your digestive tract. Given that 80% of your immune system is located there, it makes sense to provide it with the support it needs. Fermented foods are your go-to option here. Consider kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
If you struggle to access these foods, then taking a probiotic supplement can help. Don’t forget to reduce your intake of added sugars, which contribute to obesity and subsequent vulnerability to illness.
Another important lifestyle measure for strengthening your immune system is regular exercise. Even a moderate workout has noticeable effects on immune response. This is largely due to the fact that it can lower inflammation and aid in the regeneration of immune cells. There are plenty of ways to exercise more, even if you’re stuck inside.
For example, you can participate in guided bodyweight workouts, which require nothing more than a few feet of space. When you can head out, brisk walks that add up to 150 minutes of activity per week are enough to make an impact.
After you’ve broken a sweat, it’s important to refuel on a healthy amount of water. This prevents dehydration, which is key to physical performance. When your body is working like a well-oiled machine, your organs are functioning properly and performing their job, which is no less true for your immune system.
It’s not always easy to get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food alone. Supplements can help to fill in any gaps. The most important nutrients for immune health are zinc and vitamins C and D. Elderberry and echinacea are also good options.
The above steps will go a long way in strengthening your immune system. Be sure to follow up on them and implement them in your daily routine.