5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Immune system health is important to help you fight germs like bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that can cause illness. In addition to fighting germs, a strong immune system means less fatigue and faster recovery from illness or injury.
A healthy immune system can provide seasonal protection from colds and flus and even promote better sleep, which in turn strengthens your immune system even more. With it being back to school season we can use all the help we can get.
While getting sick is often an indication that your immune system is working, boosting immunity helps ensure you have a strong recovery. At the same time, not paying attention to your health can lead to a host of problems that not only lower immunity, but can make you feel fatigued or experience frequent infections with worse symptoms than normal. To boost your immune system, incorporate lifestyle changes and keep a healthy path.
These are 5 simple ways to keep your immunity in check.
#1 Check Your Diet
Cut down sugar and sweets to protect your health. Sugar is known to suppress the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness, while studies show that 75 grams of sugar can shut down immunity entirely for about 5 hours. The easiest way to begin eliminating sugar is to avoid sodas, sports drinks and fruit juice.
Instead, replace these with diluted, real fruit juice and water. To enjoy improved flavor, infuse your water with cucumbers, lemon and mint for a refreshing beverage throughout the day. You can get an infuser bottle here. If you have a sweet tooth, opt for fresh fruit like berries with sugar free yogurt, dark chocolate or make your own low-sugar treat at home. Here is one we love, keto fruit dip.
To really boost your immune system, eat more whole foods. Whole foods are those that are not adulterated by food processing, and is the best way to avoid hidden sugar, salt and other culprits that interfere with health. Eating a wholesome diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like beans, legumes, chicken or turkey breast, fresh fish and lean beef. Do your best to make whole foods the focus of your diet and your immune system will thank you.
#2 Regular Exercise
Daily boosts of exercise can stimulate your immune system in a number of ways. First, increasing your heart rate naturally stimulates circulation to deliver more blood throughout your entire body. But it also stimulates the flow of your lymph, which is a fluid that carries white blood cells through your body. When your lymph circulates more, you have more protective cells on the lookout for harmful germs and pathogens that can make you sick.
Regular exercise also provides your body a chance to more efficiently clear germs and bacteria from blood and airways, which protects you even more. But don’t overdo it, as too much exercise can weaken your immune system. Studies show that about 30 minutes of exercise each day can improve your immune response as you get fit. And be sure to drink plenty of water because proper hydration can assist your immunity even more!
#3 Improve Your Digestion
Strong digestion can contribute to a stronger metabolism, but did you know that it can also contribute to a healthier immune system? About 70-80% of your body’s immune cells are found in the gut, or technically, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT for short). Located in the digestive tract, this area not only processes food but hosts a wide range of healthy bacteria and other organisms that keep you healthy. When your gut is in balance, your entire immune system is stronger and more efficient.
Of course, we know that good digestion and a healthy gut begins with a healthy diet. This means eating wholesome foods and beverages so you get plenty of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and micronutrients that the body needs to stay strong. Focus on fiber-rich vegetables like collard greens, broccoli and green peas. Apples and berries are also high in dietary fiber, low in sugar and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that also contribute to immune health. Round out your diet with whole grains, fresh, lean proteins and plenty of water for all around health and energy.
#4 Reduce Stress and Sleep
Stress is a normal part of life and cannot be avoided for most of us. However, chronic, low-level stress can lead to a host of health issues, including taking a hit on your immune system. That’s because stress can interfere with hormonal balance and digestion, both which impact immunity. We already saw how important digestion is to immunity, but what about stress?
Chronic stress can reduce the number of lymphocytes that fight certain viruses and your ability to fight certain antigens that lead to infections. It can also cause your body to create too much cortisol, which can increase internal inflammation and lead to an overworked immune system that can no longer function properly.
Learning and practicing stress reduction techniques along with getting adequate sleep can go a long way to boost immunity. Try daily stress reduction practices like meditation, deep breathing or music therapy. The more you practice stress reduction, the easier it becomes to incorporate when you need it. Using stress reduction along with any of the above practices will help improve your quality of sleep and boost your immune system even more.
#5 Daily Boosts of Herbal Remedies
Herbs like echinacea, elderberry, goldenseal, garlic, ginger, Tumeric and Reishi mushrooms may enhance your immune system. The elderberry plant has been used for centuries to help fight infections from cold and flu. Echinacea and goldenseal are ancient remedies to boost the immune system to avoid illness, while garlic is a well known antibacterial. Reishi mushrooms stimulate immune cells to boost immunity with beta-glucans that are believed to stimulate our natural killer cells so the body can better fight infection.
Incorporating a healthy diet is a great place to begin boosting immunity, as you can be sure to get plenty of nutrients with a diet that will improve your digestion. Include regular exercise, which will also have a positive effect on stress management and sleep. Use a fitness app like Yes.Fit to make exercise fun and easily monitor your progress.
Making small, simple changes with consistency are key to sticking with a healthy lifestyle and the best way to improve your health now and in the future.