As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is looking for ways to better protect themselves and strengthen their immune system.
Extra hand washing, social distancing, and face masks to cover the mouth and nose these practices are all very important but it’s also crucial to protect your body from the inside out.
Here’s 7 simple ways to boost your immune system to help protect you and your family!
#1 Keep Pre-Existing Conditions in Check
Certain conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, are known to aggravate infections like the flu.
In fact, there’s evidence showing asthma in particular makes individuals more susceptible to viruses targeting the respiratory system.
And if you have type 2 diabetes, failing to properly manage your blood sugar weakens your immune system by stimulating a chronic inflammatory response.
Being hyperaware of pre-existing conditions and managing these ailments by taking your medicine on time and every-time keeps your immune system performing better and hopefully prevents a wider spread.
Even if you don’t have a pre-existing condition like asthma or diabetes, getting a flu shot is something everyone can do in these uncertain times.
Though there isn’t evidence to suggest the flu shot can prevent COVID-19 infection, protecting yourself against the flu will help ensure your immune system is in better condition to resist the coronavirus.
#2 Eat Healthy To Stay Healthy
It can’t be overstated how much food affects well-being.
A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states:
“Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide.”
The British Journal of Nutrition later published a similar paper explaining:
“Nutrients that have been demonstrated…to be required for the immune system to function efficiently include essential amino acids, the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, Zn, Cu, Fe and Se. Practically all forms of immunity may be affected by deficiencies in one or more of these nutrients.”
In other words, you need to pay attention to what’s on your plate if you want to boost your immune system.
It’s always a good idea to cut back on sugar since it can inhibit the body’s immune system, including white blood cells.
Focus on eating:
- Plant-based foods
- Especially citrus fruits
- Greens like broccoli
- And high-protein meals.
Studies show low-protein intake negatively affects your immune system.
Healthy foods contain vitamins that boost your immune system like Vitamin C and Vitamin D. LINK
And don’t reach for the fried chicken because fried foods in general trigger inflammatory reactions that weaken the immune system and introduce higher cholesterol levels.
So eat healthy to stay healthy and defend your immune system your immune system.
#3 Exercise Regularly And Moderately
It’s no secret that regular exercise offers many health benefits.
But did you know it also boosts your immune system, both directly and indirectly?
For starters, regular exercise is found to lower the risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
According to a Frontiers in Immunology review, it also directly helps protect your body against bacterial and viral infections.
Another study states regular exercise “can enhance vaccination response, increase T-cells, and boost the function of the natural killer cells in the immune system.”
High-intensity interval training (HIIT), on the other hand, has the opposite effect. If done too often it can suppress the immune system and lead to negative feelings and increased stress which also weakens the immune system. LINK
Regular moderate exercise is key to good health. Walking, swimming, yoga, jogging, lifting weights now and then are all great forms of exercise.
#4 Reduce Stress as Much as Possible
Stress hormones, like cortisol, can serve a beneficial purpose for the body.
In immediate situations, cortisol prevents our immune system cells from interfering with our “fight-or-flight” response.
But long-term stress and elevated cortisol levels quickly make this a bad thing.
Too much stress can suppress the immune system.
Reducing stress is easier said than done, especially during times of crisis.
Here’s a few ways to de-stress:
- Take a 20 minute nap
- Drink green tea
- Do a puzzle
- Draw or paint
- Watch some comedy
Reducing stress is one of the best things you can do for your immune system so relax more!
#5 Get A Good Sleep
Sleep is something simple you can do to make sure you’re operating at your best.
The Sleep Foundation writes:
“Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response.”
You should aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
A study published by Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology says your body produces and releases certain white blood cells that regulate your immune system while you sleep, so getting enough shut eye is critical for your immune system.
If your schedule is tight and you’re not able to get the minimum 7-8 hours of sleep per night, try to sneak in two quick half-hour naps a day, preferably in the morning or early afternoon!
#6 Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking compromises your body’s focus on normal immune function by shifting its attention instead to detoxifying.
And there are other consequences..
“In addition to pneumonia, alcohol consumption has been linked to pulmonary diseases, including tuberculosis, respiratory syncytial virus, and ARDS [acute respiratory stress syndromes]”.
Sarkar and his co-researchers also found:
“alcohol’s combined effects on both innate and adaptive immunity significantly weaken host defenses, predisposing chronic drinkers to a wide range of health problems, including infections and systemic inflammation.”
When you drink more than one glass of wine a day for women, two for men you risk sacrificing your body’s overall immunity and become more at risk to viruses and infections.
#7 Say Goodbye To Cigarettes
It’s well-documented that smoking cigarettes has long-term adverse effects on your health.
Oncotarget published a review in 2016 showing that smoking interferes with the body’s ability to not only effectively produce immune cells, including white blood T and B cells and cytokine, but the chemicals released into the body also interfere with the function of these cells.
The CDC also reveals that smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke aggravates viral, bacterial, and post-surgery infections, as well as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In general, smoking comes with a host of health issues you want to avoid.
So if you’re a smoker, take extra care to avoid exposing others to your secondhand smoke.
Or, even better, start taking steps to quit smoking altogether so you can boost your immune system and overall health.
Here are some benefits of quitting:
- Over time, your white blood cell count will return to normal
- Cilia are one of the first inhibited body parts to regrow after quitting, quickly improving your ability to avoid and recover from infections like the cold and flu
- By no longer exposing yourself to tar and nicotine, your immune system becomes stronger and can focus on fighting infections rather than trying to detoxify your body
Quitting isn’t easy to do on your own so look for tools to help you along the way, such as nicotine replacements or even behavioral therapy.
Start Boosting Your Immune System!
Making the decision to live a healthy life is the first step in boosting your immune system.
It’s an everyday journey that starts with small changes like getting to bed an hour earlier or adding berries to your morning breakfast.
Over time, you can do more and more to improve your lifestyle until you’re able to incorporate all seven tips and feel what a difference these healthy habits can make in your life.