Now more than ever, it is essential to do whatever you can to enhance your body’s immune system. Every day we come into contact with billions of germs, and our immune system is critical to fighting off those that can do us harm. And, with coronavirus spreading rapidly throughout the world, including the U.S., strengthening your immune system is one of the important preventive steps you should be taking.
While some us can improve our immune system with simple measures, others with immunodeficiency disorders must do more to protect themselves. Whatever your circumstances may be, there are steps you can take to heighten the performance of your immune system, and in turn, give yourself the best fighting chance against illnesses and infections.
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your immune system, start with these 6 tips:
Modifying Your Diet
What we eat matters because our diet has a significant impact on how our body operates, including how well our immune system functions. Some of the foods that are considered to be the most effective for helping to strengthen the immune system include:
- Yogurts with live and active cultures
- Spinach and other vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Chia seeds
- Chicken or turkey
- Brown rice
- Sunflower seeds
Basically, you want to be consuming foods that are nutrient- and antioxidant-rich, high in fiber, and help you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria.
Drink More Water
Staying hydrated is important for more than just keeping your skin moisturized—it also helps keep your body in top working order so that you are physically prepared to stave off illness. While there are a variety of factors that influence how much water you personally should be drinking in a day, you should at least be drinking eight 8-oz glasses.
If you are more active than the average individual, are overweight, or live somewhere that’s typically hot, you may need to drink more than this standard amount. Above and beyond that, if your body is signalling that it’s thirsty or showing signs of dehydration (dry skin, dark urine, dizziness, etc.), then you should ensure that you’re drinking more water to meet your body’s needs.
Use Supplements When Needed
Depending on your personal circumstances such as your diet or health conditions, you may be lacking in certain vital nutrients.
While making changes to what you’re eating can help make sure that you’re getting adequate amounts of these nutrients, it’s not always enough. If that’s the case, or you’re having trouble fitting nutrient-rich foods into your diet for whatever reason, you might consider taking supplements to help boost your immune system.
There are comprehensive supplements that combine several different types of vitamins and nutrients and then there are those that are targeted—providing your daily recommended intake of a certain vitamin. Depending on where your diet is lacking, you can choose which is the best option for you.
You may be apprehensive to use supplements because they are traditionally loosely regulated. That’s why it’s important to use a reputable brand like Objective, iIf you are going to use a supplement. You also want to take care that you do not exceed the daily recommended amount of a certain vitamin or nutrient—this could have potentially negative effects on your health.
As you’re likely aware, exercising regularly is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy—that includes preventing and overcoming illness. In fact, individuals who exercised at least five days per week were shown to have approximately half the risk of coming down with a cold and had more moderate symptoms.
Generally speaking, it’s recommended that we do at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day. That said, depending on your level of physical fitness, you need to be careful about completely overhauling your activity levels.
While it’s likely that you can benefit from increasing your physical activity, a gradual progression is recommended to avoid injuries. If you feel that your exercise routine could use improvement, try gradually increasing the length of time and difficulty of your workouts.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
For most people, the sweet spot for ideal sleep is 7 to 9 hours. Sleep has many health benefits, because during that time, your body performs many essential functions like regenerating cells, repairing tissues, and more. Neglecting your sleep schedule could have serious consequences, both in the short- and long-term, which is why it should be a priority, even if you think you’re in good health.
According to the Journal of Experimental Medicine, when you’re sleeping, you’re also heightening your body’s defense by enhancing the function of T cells which are an essential part of the body’s immune response. This helps to ensure that your body is able to respond quickly to foreign entities that can cause illness.
In addition to promoting better physical health, getting the recommended amount of sleep is also beneficial to your mental health.
Actively Manage Your Stress
There is significant research to show that, in times of stress, your immune system is typically less effective, making you more susceptible to infections and illness. That’s why active stress management is so important. Whether your stress is triggered by your current circumstances or situations, or you tend to be highly stressed most of the time, you can find ways to cope with and reduce your stress, such as:
- Taking a long bath
- Listening to music
These are just a few examples of course, to help yourself de-stress find an activity that you enjoy that takes your mind off of the matters that are stressing you.
As with many other aspects of your health, boosting your immune system isn’t a one-and-done solution. Your immune system is a complex system that plays a major role in the body and your overall well-being. In order to keep your immune system in the best working order, you need to ensure that you are leading an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes incorporating some or all of these recommendations into your routine.
It’s important to note that before making any major changes to your diet or routine—especially if you have an underlying condition—you should speak with your primary doctor to make sure you’re making the right choices for your needs.
Alexis Maness has a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and is a contributing editor for 365businesstips.com. As a professional content writer, she has over five years of experience and is a contributing writer for several San Diego magazines. Alexis specializes in topics related to business, marketing, finance, and hospitality and tourism.