How to Boost Your Immune System in 7 Tangible Ways
With the common cold, seasonal flu, and nasty bugs like COVID-19 lurking around every corner, doing whatever you can to stay healthy is likely a primary concern. A two-step strategy is your best defense. First, adopt habits that will reduce your likelihood of getting sick in the first place. Second, boost your immune system. That way, if you do get sick, you’ll be able to recover more quickly, and your symptoms won’t be as severe.
Here are some simple immune-boosting strategies to incorporate into your everyday routine.
1. Get Moving
If you need a little extra motivation to work out, here’s something that might do the trick. According to this 2019 report from the Journal of Sports and Health Science, moderate to vigorous exercise can fire up your immune system, reducing inflammation and lowering your chances of getting sick.
So, how much exercise do you need? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says you should aim for 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or 150 minutes of moderate activity, every single week. If the gym is not your thing, do a 15 to 20-minute workout at home several times a week.
Dr. Suzanne Salamon at Harvard Health says jumping rope, jogging in place, dancing, or speed walking through your neighborhood are all great ways to work up a sweat without any special equipment.
2. Develop Healthy Sleep Habits
Too many of us look at sleep as a luxury, rather than a necessity. Whether it’s the anxiety of current events or simply your busy work schedule keeping you up at night, now’s the time to prioritize healthy sleep habits. Your body requires adequate sleep to fight off sickness.
According to Dr. Eric J. Olsen at the Mayo Clinic, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
Most adults need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This does decrease by an hour when you hit age 65, dropping to an eight-hour maximum, but the amount of sleep isn’t the only thing that matters; the quality of the sleep is equally important.
3. Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
When you are stressed out, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol inhibits the ability of specific white blood cells, called T-cells, to reproduce and communicate effectively with the brain. Even worse, cortisol also inhibits the release of antibodies that defend us against viruses, cancer, and infections.
In an article written for Psychology Today, Dr. Andrew Goliszek says the effects of stress on the body are cumulative, so day to day stress can add up to serious health problems over time. We all need to be aware of the effects of daily stress and find healthy ways to manage it.
Exercise, acupuncture, yoga, therapeutic massage, and creative hobbies are all fantastic ways to keep stress in check. Dr. Goliszek also stresses the importance of social support from friends and family for reducing stress and supporting overall health.
4. Try Replenishing Your Immune-Boosting Nutrients with IV Therapy
Dr. Miriam Rahav at Rahav Wellness IV Therapy says that “So much of our health and wellness depends on our inner balance of hydration, vitamins, and nutrition.” She reports that even people who eat the cleanest diet can have inadequate nutrition at the cellular level. This can be caused by poor digestion, food sensitivities, sickness, compromised gut health, or chronic inflammation.
An IV treatment can be tailored to address the needs of each individual patient. To help the body tap into its unique healing potential and boost the immune system, the team at Rahav Wellness recommends an IV drip containing an infusion of nutrients like B complex, vitamin C, zinc, lysine, and trace minerals.
5. Optimize Your Diet to Boost Your Immune System
Most of us know that a healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Your diet can be optimized even further to boost your immune system by choosing specific nutrient-rich foods.
Consider adding these foods on your grocery list for their immune-boosting nutrients:
- Broccoli: Contains antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E
- Garlic: Contains sulfur compounds to boost the immune system and fight infection
- Spinach: Rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C
- Almonds: Rich in immune-boosting vitamin E
- Green Tea: Abundant in powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation and support immune function
- Kiwi: Contains Vitamins C and K plus folate and potassium
- Sunflower Seeds: Excellent source of vitamins B6 and E plus magnesium and phosphorous
- Citrus Fruits: for vitamin C and bioflavonoids
- Red and Yellow Peppers: Rich in vitamin C
- Ginger: Reduces inflammation
- Greek Yogurt: Rich in vitamin D and probiotics
- Turmeric: Fights inflammation
- Papaya: Contains vitamins A, B, and C, as well as key digestive enzymes for a healthy gut and reduced inflammation
- Poultry: Rich in vitamin B6
- Shellfish: High in zinc to support immune cell function
6. Quit Smoking
There are so many reasons to quit smoking, with increasing the risk of cancer being near the top of the list. What many people don’t realize is that smoking inhibits the immune system and leaves you more susceptible to viruses. Smoking can also dramatically increase your recovery time and make your symptoms worse if you become ill.
7. Spend Some Time Outside
Spending some time outside in the sunshine can do wonders for your immune system because it allows the body to make its own immune-boosting Vitamin D. This is a crucial nutrient for producing the antibodies that fight infections and viruses. Deficiencies can also contribute to problems with the respiratory system.
Since vitamin D isn’t abundant in the regular diet, spending some time in the sun is the best way to increase your intake naturally. Shoot for about 10 or 15 minutes of sun exposure each day to ensure that your body is producing adequate amounts of this nutrient.
These simple immune-boosting strategies are recommended by experts for boosting the immune system safely and naturally. Not only will they help to keep viruses like the common cold and COVID-19 at bay, but they will also help to prevent serious health concerns like heart disease and cancer. They’ll even improve the way you feel overall each day!
Do you have any questions about how to boost your immunity? Let me know in the comments below.
Nicole has been obsessed with beauty and fashion since she was a young girl, always flipping through Vogue and stealing her mother’s cosmetics bag to experiment. She’s a former wedding makeup artist who loves spending her free time trying new products and staying up to date on the latest beauty and style trends. While Nicole’s days are now spent contributing to fashion, beauty, and lifestyle sites from home while raising her kids, she can still always be found putting looks together, even if it’s just for a trip to the grocery store!
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