Boosting your immune system is a little bit harder than flipping a switch or popping a magic pill. Your immune system is quite complex. It must be strong enough to fight off illness and infections, but not so overly strong that it causes an autoimmune disorder to develop. However, by making some lifestyle changes and replacing some bad habits with better ones, you can help keep your immune system healthy.
Here are 6 ways to help boost your immune system and help to fight off whatever may be floating out there!
- STAY HYDRATED
While drinking a lot of water doesn’t necessarily protect you from illness, staying hydrated is important to your overall health.
When you are dehydrated, it can cause multiple physical issues such as headaches, digestive issues, lack of focus, even problematic kidney function. All of these things can lead to a greater susceptibility to illness. Your immune system needs the nutrients in your bloodstream and your blood is made up mostly of water. If you are not fully hydrated, your blood stream cannot properly transport nutrients to each organ system.
A good rule of thumb is to drink ½ oz of water for each pound of body weight. This amount should be increased if you are engaging in any strenuous activity.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep and immunity go hand in hand. If you don’t get the right amount of sleep, or the sleep is poor quality, you are at a higher risk of illness.
When you sleep, your body produces a protein called cytokine that targets inflammation and infection, which in turn creates an immune reaction. Your body also produces T-cells while you are sleeping. These T-cells are key in your body’s immune response to disease and infection.
Adults should strive to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night.
- REDUCE STRESS
When you are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is lessened. When you have continued stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.
4. GET SOME EXERCISE
Studies have shown that when you exercise, there are several different types of white blood cells, one of those known as macrophage. Macrophages help envelope and destroy any invader that is not deemed a healthy body cell.
Exercise also manages stress which is problematic to the immune system by releasing endorphins, your brain’s “feel good neurotransmitters”.
5. THE RIGHT FOOD
Your immune system is your first-line defense against illness, which is why it is important to keep it well nourished with the RIGHT foods.
Free radicals are compounds that can cause damage if the levels within your body reach a certain level. Free radicals have been linked to many diseases including heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. What fights the free radicals are antioxidants. Some foods that are high in antioxidants are blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, kale and spinach.
As vitamin C is an antioxidant, it is important to incorporate foods high in vitamin C into your diet. Some foods high in vitamin C include guavas, kiwi, bell peppers, oranges and broccoli.
6. VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS
As already discussed, your diet plays a huge role in protecting your immune system by protecting against toxins and infections.
Unfortunately, too many people are not getting the proper balance of healthy foods. The best source of vitamins and minerals is through your food source, however, if you are low in certain areas, supplementing your diet can help.
One of those supplements you can take daily is vitamin D3 at 5000 i.u. or international units. Vitamin D is a critical component of a healthy immune system. The single-best source is direct sunlight 4-5 times a week for 15-20 minutes. However, during the late fall through early spring, it’s difficult to get the exposure needed for the body to make its own vitamin D. A single D3 capsule a day can help give your body what it needs.
Two additional supplements that help provide your immune system with critical building blocks are Zinc and vitamin C. Both are readily available in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Remember, whenever you are deciding to add supplements to your diet, you should check with your doctor.